When to Kill Off a Character?

I’ve been working on one of my short stories lately, because I want to at least try to get something published this year…and I ran into a little snag. On Sunday, I finished a rough draft for it, but it didn’t seem complete.

I had alluded to the idea that one of the characters does pass away earlier in the story, but when I got to the end, there she was a live and well, and I was happy with that. She was so good, sweet, and compassionate and I wanted to keep her, was that such a bad thing?

But the story seems to lack a climax, a moment that resonates with the reader, that draws the story to the close, to some kind of satisfying end or resolution. It kind of struck me in that aw man, type of way, when I realized that the death of one of my favorite characters might just be the sacrifice that the story needs to make it complete, but I’m dragging my feet.

How do you know when a death in a story is really necessary?

I did a little research, and the overall idea, it seems, is to incite some reaction from your reader (which is what I need,) and it should advance the plot, (which this would.)

The fact of the matter is: I don’t want to kill her! I love this character and the idea of just offing her in some grand sacrifice, makes me feel kind of sick inside. But if it upsets me, surely it might be necessary to the story?

I guess I was wondering your take on the matter?

Do you guys know when it is the right time to kill off a character? And are you finding it as difficult as me?

I guess I’ve never given it much thought until now…and I can’t imagine what J.K. Rowling must have went through when she had to face the death of Dumbledore…(yeesh!)

Hope everyone is having a great night! Happy Writing!

Writing Prompt #12: Write a story that consists mostly of dialogue

“So then Robbie told me that he caught this giant lobster, and it practically took his arm off.”

“What’d he do with it?”

A shrug from the man across the lunch table from me. “Dunno.” He picked at some chicken in his teeth. “Cooked it up–No. That one he threw back.”

Rafael has been regaling me with tales of fishing with his cousin in Maine. In the last fifteen minutes, I’ve learned that people in Maine talk funny, chowdah is the tits, and don’t stick your face in front of a lobster. Specifically, its claws.

“What’d you do this weekend?” He asks me.

I shrug. “Went to the park. Worked out. Got a pizza.”

“Your life is so boring, dude.”

I shrug again but its more like a wince. “Daniella left, you know. Again.”

“Why you wasting your time with her? Get a new one.” He juggles his hands in front of his chest knowingly. Our co-worker, Jane, makes an appalled face.

I bite back a laugh. “Naw, man…I don’t think Merlin would approve.” Merlin’s my five-year old rottweiler who’s part human and part dog-child all wrapped into one-hundred and thirty pounds of goofball; but mostly he just hogs the covers.

“I think I have a cousin, you can meet,” says Rafael.

“I hope it’s not Robert.”

Chicken goes down the wrong way, and comes flying out across the table. “You’re gonna kill me, man.” Another cough. “It’s Ashley. You know, bright-blond, kinda slutty?”

I grunt. “What happened to Sarah?”

“Oh, she got married last year. Met some guy in Vegas. I told her not to, but she said he bought her some kind of leopard-printed dress that matched her ring…and well, she said her new man’s got style.”

“He rich?” asks Jane. Rafael gives her an odd look, like he forgot she was there, eating her PB&J.

“Yeah, where you been?”

“Any kids?” I ask.

“Twins. Cute, too, although you wouldn’t think it, cause her new husband, some kind of Antoniohe’s got a dog’s face, dude. Guess you can be ugly when you’re rich.”

“That’s not very nice,” says Jane.

For some reason, I immediately feel sorry for her. She gets up from the table and  slumps from the room.

“What’s her problem?” says Rafael.

I shrug. “Bad weekend, I guess. ” But my eyes are still on the open door of the break room.

I get up then without thought. “I’m going for a smoke.”

Rafael looks up at me, startled and then he looks down at his paper plate and realizes he’s already eaten his chicken and he’s spilled his rice all over the table.

“You’re such a slob, man.”

He laughs as he swipes rice into the trash. “Wait up, will you?”

But I pretend I don’t hear him as I walk purposely from the room. I can hear him calling to me from down the hallway.

“Oh! And there’s also my cousin Mary-Patrice…”

 

Some Non-Fiction: Today’s Observation, a Conversation at the Lunch Table

I’ve been listening to David Sedaris’ Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, at work for the last few days. His book is a collection of essays about his life and some short stories. For some reason, it inspired me to try a little bit of non-fiction writing. I do need to record more of what I do, and the conversations I have on a given basis. Mr. Sedaris apparently writes too much in his journal, or so he confesses.

Non-fiction isn’t always easy for me. I don’t know if writing about your life, and the people in it is easier for some – but for me, I have to hold onto the little bit of friends I have. So it is difficult for me to just let go. Being a writer is about writing truth…and I worry too much about what people think.

Anyway, the point is, I am trying to challenge myself to try something new. I do not write enough about my life, and that is a shame. As boring as it is, there’s got to be some gem amongst the stones, right? Right?  Ahaha. Here goes.


 A conversation at the lunch table.

“Someone stole my carrots!” I look down into my lunch bag at the lonely tub of hummus. It stares back at me blankly, smudgy, feeling like old cement.

“Well that’s just great!” I say as I shove my lunch away. “Now I have nothing to eat my hummas with.” The last part is said with a bit of a whine. If its one thing that pisses me off, it’s going hungry.

I look up to a stare from my fellow co-workers. The woman next to me gets an uncertain look. “Someone stole my soda once.”

“Seems unlikely,” says another woman, her hair is grey, long, down her back. “I mean, if it was a bag of chips…”

“At least you have pasta,” says another.  A young woman, who reads graphic novels and writes in a journal covered with cartoon characters. “I have this,” and she gestures towards a microwave pizza she bought in the vending machine. It’s one of those french bread kinds, that are usually better in an oven.

“How it is?” I ask, already a bit skeptical.

She shrugs. “It’s not as crunchy as I thought it would be.”

I respond with a thoughtful, “that’s too bad,” and make my way out of the break room. One thing I do like about my job: the people I work with. There are other things that leave much to be desired. A clean floor would be nice, for one.

“I suppose I could have left it on the counter…” I mumble a bit disappointed, turning the dial on my lock to shove my purse away in my locker. “But it sounded so much better being stolen. Other than me just being forgetful. You know, I was late to work this morning.”

The older woman with the long hair laughs. “And that’s your story and you’re sticking to it!”

“You’re darn right.”

I watch her head back up the stairs, back to work. Back to the monotony and a desk that smells like dust and sometimes burnt coffee. I’ll sometimes prop my folder up on my desk, to keep the computer from blowing hot air on my face. For some reason, this gives me a weird sense of victory. I suppose there is pleasure in the little things in life. Like I’ve beat the system. Like who cares if the computer may over-heat, at least my face is cool.

Back to work…back to work…

When I get home, I am hungry and tired, and I find a bag of carrot sticks sitting propped up against the microwave. I wave a fruit fly away.

“Think they’re still good?” I mutter, as I inspect the orange skin, that now looks dried and crackley, like they’ve been in the desert doing some serious time and not lounging serenely on my counter all day in an empty apartment.

My boyfriend gives a deep chuckle from the next room. “I’m sure they’re fine.”

I scrunch up my nose and laugh as I put them in the refrigerator, feeling suddenly like a little kid and then shaking my head at the absurdity of it all. How silly I was to think people would actually steal healthy food. Crunching carrots on the sly, isn’t exactly inconspicuous.

Unless there’s some kind of crazed vegetarian out there, just ready to go postal.

I’m starting to think I should be on the look out for Bug’s Bunny. I’ve tried the “What’s up, dock?” thing to Michael while munching on a carrot before. He doesn’t find it attractive.

Ah, next time I suppose.

 

Short Story Page Update: “Endtown”

Today is a lazy day. I meant to run errands, but it’s dismally cold out there, and there is hot coco in the cabinet and cold pizza in a fridge, and what with that waiting for me, what more can a girl want? 😉

How about some writing and a short story update? I have added my story “Endtown” to my short story’s page, which you can view up there ^ at the top of this website or here.


endtownEndtown

The short story focuses on Genevieve, a teenager who died way too early. Both her and the friends she makes there are in Limbo, or “the in-between,” in neither Heaven or Hell. They are the Watchers; the eyes that no one sees on earth, silently helping the Angels fight a war between the demons.

The thing they never tell you when you are saying your goodbyes: how quiet death is. For a long time she felt like she existed, except there are no formal introductions to the places you wake up in. In Sunday school she learned it this way: You go to Heaven if you are good; Hell is for the sinners and the unclean. But what she didn’t know, was that there were places that existed for the In-Between. Limbo wasn’t just for those who slept and never woke up.


It was the story I did as a continuation story on here. I was very proud with the characters and story that came out of it. I can certainly see the potential for more stories to come from this. 🙂

Happy Writing!

Oh, and for those doing NaNoWriMo, are you doing so much better than me? Is someone actually getting some writing done? (siigh). Best of luck to us all!

15 Minute Journaling: The Butterfly

I wanted to post last night, but work has kept me busy the last few days. That’s why I think it’s a good idea to relax, and just let the words take me – time for a 15 minute journaling session.

notebook in candlelight

And for those of you who don’t know, “15 Minute Journaling” is something I used to do in one of my creative writing classes in college. The teacher would write a prompt on the board, and then we would write in our journals for 15 minutes.

It’s amazing how many stories have come out of those sessions, and amazing how much of a stress reliever it can be sometimes.

15 Minutes here I go! But first I need to find a writing prompt. Google brought me to this page > http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts < Writing prompts on writersdigest.com.

They remind me of the prompts my teacher used to give us. Quirky and not at all like the norm. My writing prompt app never gives me the idea of writing about a character with an extra arm…everything is so normal. Ah, what defines normal anyway?

Here we go. 15 Minutes on the clock please! Feel free to write along if you want! This is the one I chose:

“A Few Sips Off” – You take a few sips of your drink and feel different. That may be because your torso has an extra arm protruding from it. Another sip, another arm. Then a wing. What happens if you finish the drink?

I asked the magician to give me a potion to make me beautiful. In my mind, I had it all figured out: a dress shimmering a blue and green, like the tail of a mermaid, a pretty version of the Cinderella dress. This isn’t what I asked for.

I choked on the last few drops. It tasted like copper, like the time I bit my tongue and blood poured into my mouth. It was sweet and metallic and I gagged. I looked down at the vial that had held the purple liquid in horror. It crashed to the ground and shattered into a million bits as my fingers began to change. I was shrinking! My arms became long and black and hairy. Two arms sprouted from each side of my torso. My jeans and t-shirt disappeared. My long body was black and green-blue iridescent. I cried out as wings sprouted from my back, long and blue and black. My face elongated and my vision blurred. I had freaking antennas on my head! Was I a butterfly? I felt the wings on my back flit nervously and air brushed my face.

Source: desktopnexus.com

Source: desktopnexus.com

I felt cold, and clammy and brand new. Like the new skin on a wound just beginning to heal after someone ripped the band-aid off. I wasn’t ready for this bright new world. I tried to speak but nothing came out. My vision had doubled, and then quadrupled. I had been standing next to the table in my dining room…now I was standing on top of it. The table shuddered underneath my feet as I watched a huge form coming my way. It was the dark shadow of my tall, older brother coming to the kitchen for a snack.

Would he see me? Would he squish me? Or am I to remain like this forever? Beautiful and tragic? No, tragically small. Forever contained in this simplistic beauty, but as powerless as I was before.

Help me big brother, I cried silently and jumped up and down, my wings lifting me to one spot and then the next. Help!

***Oh, interesting. I have a few more minutes on my 15, but I think I will leave it at that.

What inspires you guys to write? Any writing prompts that you like to use?

Happy Writing!

Finished Short Story “Endtown” Check it out!

Alas, sickness has taken me these last couple of weeks, so I have been unable to post. On the plus side, I did manage to finish that story, “Endtown” and while it’s no great masterpiece, I am still pleased with the results.

My experiment in posting a continuing story on here taught me some things too.

1). I can finish a story. It doesn’t matter how it goes, I am capable of creating something with a beginning, middle and end. There is no more room for self doubt here.

2.) Even the best stories aren’t perfect from the get go. What IS important is the ideas and characters that you manage to create. I keep forgetting that. There’s always room for something to get better, to grow as you do.

3.) And lastly, PLOT. One of my weaknesses. I have a tendency to create characters, a setting and then freeze when there comes a time to put them somewhere. Plot, to me, is something that grows as the characters do. Give them free range to take you where they will, however, remember that you are the master of this story, and you decide what makes a good story. And that includes weeding out the scenes that don’t really go anywhere.

I was very proud of the characters and situation that I created here. While “Endtown” is a short story on its own, I definitely see it as a jumping off point for something greater, a novel with the characters I created here, when I have time to start another large project. All in good time. And, without further ado…here it is.


A quick refresher:

endtown The story focuses on Genevieve, a teenager who died way too early. Both her and the friends she makes there are in Limbo, or “the in-between,” in neither Heaven or Hell. They are the Watchers; the eyes that no one sees on earth, silently helping the Angels fight a war between the demons.


THE train rattled, a rata-tat-tat, a rata-tat-tat, ending with a drawn out horn as it whooshed past. The girl standing under the street light turned towards the sound. She could see the train’s cars flying past in between the distant buildings, a blur of colors, grey and blue and a burnt red all blending together. One minute there and the next gone. She tossed a ball up and down in her hands, up towards the street light, which turned everything in the darkness a pale sort of yellow.

She leaned down and squinted at some writing that someone had chalked onto the sidewalk: a hand with the middle finger sticking up all done up in orange and pink. Underneath the drawing someone had written in white chalk in capital letters: UP YOURS.

“Ridiculous,” she said as she paced back and forth. “So angry,” she muttered. “So…undisciplined.”

“You of all people should know,” said a hissing voice next to her elbow, with a faint laugh.

The girl jumped. “God! You scared the shit out of me!”

She looked down at a green and white striped snake who was stretched out on a blue garbage can. “Of all the forms you could choose, and you come to me like that.”

“Oh, forgive me your great worshipfulness,” hissed the snake. “Next time I’ll come as a chipmunk…or a kumquat.”

“A kumquat? What the hell is that? Anyway, it feels like I’m talking to the garbage can. I’m sure it looks like it, too.”

“Hey, if cans could talk,” said the snake, with a slither of his tongue and a wink. “I wonder what they would say?”

She looked across the street at a rundown convenience store. It was a white square building, with a faded coco cola sign out front. “Probably something like it stinks in here.”  She noticed that the neon sign was supposed to say Jerry’s, but an R was missing. “Have you heard from the master tonight?”

“Not a thing. I thought that is why you called this meeting?”

“My job was to watch this small town. Watch the train, watch the exports, watch the people, and yet…nothing. I haven’t heard from anybody in weeks.”

“Have a little faith Gen,” said the snake. “That’s what we are here for.”

She folded her arms across her chest, as the wind rustled a chunk of brown hair by her face. Freckled, blue-eyed and dressed in a red t-shirt and shorts, she felt trapped by her boyish figure, by the fact that she never could grow up, no matter how much she wanted to. She scratched at the sweat that had gathered at the back of her neck.

“It must be on the train,” she said as she swatted at a fly that flew in front of her face. She watched with wide eyes as it buzzed in front of the snake who swallowed it down with a big gulp.

“You’re disgusting,” she said as she turned away. “I can’t believe I spend time with you.”

“You love me,” said the snake. “I just know it. Anyway, tell me about this town. Any diamonds in the rough?”

“Some. There was a baker who gave me an extra doughnut in my box yesterday, but he thought it was for my mother.”

The snake gave her a side-long glance. “How are the live-in parents doing?”

“Fine.”

He wasn’t stupid, he knew what she wasn’t saying.

Genevieve scratched at an itch on her nose. She wriggled her shoulders. The itch was spreading. It felt like the time she had gotten poison ivy when she was a kid at summer camp.

“Can we go get a coffee or something?” she said as she scratched at the freckles on her arms. “I can’t stand under this street light anymore. I feel like a hooker.”

The snake snorted. “You’re breaking out in hives again, aren’t you?”

“I am not.”

“Stop worrying.” He flicked his tail toward her and managed to poke her in the side. She glared at him.

“Stop that,” she said.

“I don’t think snakes drink coffee.”

“Change then,” she said and she was already walking down the street. She heard a grunt, and then there was the sound of footsteps behind her.

She looked down at her friend’s blue tennis shoes, jeans and then up to his blonde-silver hair. His brown eyes twinkled with mischief. “So, where are we going?”

The only thing open was a 24-hour diner that promised the best fried chicken this town has to offer! “That’s promising,” muttered the girl as they walked inside. “And there’s a KFC next door.”

“They are hardly the best,” said their hostess, as she grabbed their menus. She had long, silky brown hair and smooth skin. “Will you guys be having dinner? We have a separate dinner, dessert and breakfast menu. “

The man standing next to Genevieve scratched at his head. “Haven’t decided yet. Why don’t you give us all three.”

Over pancakes, sausage, and bacon they talked about the master’s plan.

“So, you want to board a train?” said Genevieve as she forked a bite of pancake in her mouth. She chewed slowly and then swallowed. “After we were told strictly by the master to leave it alone? It’s clear dark territory.”

“Well, what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him,” said her friend, mentor, and sometimes brother.

“He’s all-seeing, he’ll find out, Gaven.”

Gaven shrugged and started eating some bacon. “You know what I like about earth-food?”

“What’s that?” she said as she stared at the ice in the bottom of her empty glass.

“The grease.” He took another bite of bacon and crunched it loudly.

“You’re disgusting,” she said, but she couldn’t completely hide her smile. He kept her sane this friend, who looked like an older brother. Gaven was tan all over, with blue eyes and brown hair. He looked like the type of guys that girls her age would probably giggle over. But she wasn’t a little girl.

She watched him as he set down his fork. “You didn’t tell me about the parents?”

“They think I’m twelve,” she said with a grimace. “They treat me like I’m twelve.”

He sighed. “If you’d just repent…”

“I’ve said my sorrys, what do you want from me?”

“This punishment won’t last forever, Gen.”

She stirred scrambled eggs around her plate. “That’s not what Harry said.”

“Harry is a wicked angel, Gen, you know that.” He gulped at his orange juice. “God, that’s good.”

“He said something about the master telling him it was true. How I was stuck like this. Forever.”

“Nothing is permanent in this world, you know that. It’s life and death and high calories.”

She stuck her tongue out at him.

“There,” he said as he saluted his empty juice glass at her. “Now you’re starting to act your age.”

An hour later, they shivered in the dark next to the train tracks. The place was lit by street lights, and the usually brown-dirt looked a strange purple in the darkness. “What are we doing here?” she hissed, as she hugged herself against the early morning chill. “We are going to get ourselves killed.”

“You can’t get killed if you are already dead, and besides, we are invincible.” Gaven bounced up and down on his feet. He glanced at his watch. “It’s passed 3am, something’s wrong.”

Genevieve gazed down the tracks, it ran through trees and behind buildings, but the only thing she saw were the hills on the other side of town. She looked across the tracks at the run down factory, stretched out in front of it was mounds of dirt, bulldozers and holes in the ground. Whatever they were building, it looked a mess.

A train horn sounded in the darkness, it was faint and growing closer.

“So we are going to jump onto it as it comes by?”

“That’s the plan,” said Gaven.

Genevieve didn’t like this plan. She didn’t like anything about the dark just then, the way morning seemed so far away, the way the smell of the trees and dirt smelled sweet just then, and heavy. “Something’s here,” she hissed and turned around. But beyond the light that lit up the construction site and part of the tracks, she saw nothing. She heard the scuff of someone kicking a stone in the darkness, the sound of a muttered curse. A man’s voice.

“Who’s there?” she called out.

They saw the glow, first. Of eyes that snapped on, like someone had turned on a light switch. Glowing faint at first, and then closer, she gasped as two orange and fiery red eyes appeared. She thought she should be scared, but for some reason, Gen thought of campfires and felt like lying down and going to sleep.

“Knock it off, Gill,” said Gaven, “We know it’s you.”

“Oh, the master’s going to kill you,” said a deep voice, gleefully.

“Gillian!” cried Genevieve. She heard laughter and grunts as Gaven punched him in the gut. The glowing eyes disappeared. Not all of them knew how to use glamour.

The train appeared on the track, rushing closer, growing bigger. Just as Genevieve was about to open her mouth to let Gaven know, there was a rush of heat, and white light and the front of the train exploded in the darkness.

 

They were trying to rustle through the broken pieces in the darkness, lit only faintly by the burning embers of the wreck. Everything smelled of soot and burnt meat.

“There weren’t humans on this train was there?” she thought with horror.

“No,” said Gillian as he flipped over a burnt piece of wood. “The trains are used for cargo.”

In the darkness, Gen could see the faint outline of his dark cloak. He was the same age as Gavin, but where Gavin was muscular and tan, Gillian was pale, black haired and gaunt. The three G’s the others sometimes called them, and other things…but Genevieve was just happy to have friends. Being dead could be a lonely thing.

Gaven came to stand by her then and she looked up at his shiny eyes. He grabbed her elbow suddenly, as a figure stepped out from the darkness in front of the simmering embers of the train wreck. She had momentarily forgot about the rest of the train, but its tail end still waiting in the darkness, white and silent, expecting.

“Oh, in-between-ers,” a voice hissed as it stepped closer. “This night just gets better and better.”

“Don’t come any closer,” said Gaven. “We are not here to fight you.”

“What are you here for then, if not to sabotage our plans?” said the voice, dark and raspy.

Gilian came up to stand on the other side of Genevieve. “We are here for answers,” he said. “There is no place for you here, demon.”

The figure laughed and Genevieve felt a chill in her heart. She could never be this evil. She felt a sudden feeling of hopelessness. Maybe she really was just a little girl after all. “I can feel your hopelessness, your distrust,” said the figure. He lowered the dark hood that he wore. Besides a chill, he stank of fire and fish. His face was all white, his eyes were completely black. He had no hair, and a thin black slash for a mouth. “Tell me, how goes your revolution?”

“Our business is none of yours,” said Genevieve as she held Gaven’s arm. “What are you doing here?”

The figure tilted his head towards the cold wind that blew through the trees and stirred the ash at his feet. A glowing piece of wood glowed orange and then caught on fire. He studied his claw-like fingernails. “I don’t waste my time talking to children. I wonder…does your master know your here?”

Genevieve remembered the first time she met the master. The thing they never tell you when you are saying your goodbyes: how quiet death is. For a long time she felt like she existed, except there are no formal introductions to the places you wake up in. In Sunday school she learned it this way: You go to Heaven if you are good; Hell is for the sinners and the unclean. But what she didn’t know, was that there were places that existed for the In-Between. Limbo wasn’t just for those who slept and never woke up.

Limbo was the place you went if you weren’t quite good enough. Limbo was for the punished who’d repented. It was for the few stranglers of the Great Fall, back when Lucifer had tried to make a claim to earth and all its inhabitants. A war they were still fighting, actually. Some from the Great Fall were trying to make right what they had done. Some were sent there because they weren’t quite done with where they had been. Some thought that it was a place to be alive again, but Genevieve wasn’t so sure. Neither Angel or Demon, the “In-between-ers” were neither living or dead. They possessed the skills and strengths of an Angel, but they weren’t all-seeing like some, and they had the limitations of a human body.

Genevieve felt like a broken record sometimes, living a life that she had a few times before. Moments never change, regrets still exist and living life like a human constantly reminded her how fragile and stupid they were sometimes. She was sick of making the same mistakes over and over again.

But the man they called Master gave them a purpose. They were the insiders, helping to fight a war that the Angels struggled with. They could blend in, they could be the eyes in every corner.

She vaguely remember Heaven, just a warm place and fighting for life. She remembers struggling to breathe, twisting her arms around in the murky river, trying to kick at the thick, car window. Between bursts of unconsciousness, she felt warmth surround her and then there was nothing. She woke up in a white room. There was no smell, no breeze, nothing. Just a ever present fog and the feeling that she had forgotten something, left something behind.

She wore a hospital gown and sat up on the bed that you see in a doctor’s office. A man approached. He wore dark rimmed glasses and had a Clark Kent type of feel, and a presence about him, a strength. His eyes were not natural either, they were a wide blue almost purple, and his ears were pointed at the tip. He wore a white lab coat. When he was closer, Genevieve could see the tops of feathered wings poking over his shoulders.

“You’re awake,” he said. “Good.”

“You’re an Angel,” she said, and was surprised to hear her own voice. It had felt like a long time.

He sat down in a desk chair that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. “Sort of.” He eyed her over a manila folder that had also appeared in his hand. “First time driver, huh?”

Genevieve blinked at him. “I’d rather not talk about it.”

He rolled back in his chair as he looked at her. “Let me put it this way for you. Heaven is not quite ready for you, you’re too good for Hell, and you were too young to die. At sixteen you are supposed to have the whole world in front of you. What if I said you could make a difference for others instead?”

That was how it started.

The demon was still looking at them. “He doesn’t know, does he?” He grinned, and Genevieve shuddered. His teeth were filed down to points, for gnawing on flesh.

“What are you going to do?” said Genevieve.

He looked the three of them over. “Oh, wouldn’t you like to know.”

 

Genevieve’s skin itched; it felt like a hundred stinging ants were crawling across her stomach. She was burning. Her forehead was sweating. “He’s going to burn us from the inside out!” she gasped. Gaven and Gillian both groaned suddenly and dropped to their knees.

“Make him stop!” cried Gillian as he fell towards the ground, gasping for breath.

“Do what?” cried Genevieve as she struggled to stay upright.

“There’s nothing to do,” gasped Gaven. “We’re already dead.”

“That you are,” said a voice that was familiar, and scary at the same time.

And there he stood next to the ugly bald-headed demon, looking resplendent in his white suit, and colored sunglasses. His face was slightly rough with a day’s worth of scruff, but other than that, the master looked smooth and handsome and powerful.

“Why are you here, Lyle? I hear your master is half-way around the world right now.”

And then the pain fell away. Genevieve fell onto all fours next to the boys.

The demon named Lyle turned toward the master slowly. He scrunched up his already ugly face into a scowl. “Samyaza.”

“Please,” said the Master. “Samuel is fine.”

“Your name doesn’t matter to me,” hissed Lyle. “Who are you to question where I am?”

“It matters when you hurt,” (he said as he glanced at the three teenagers,) “Those that are close to me.”

Lyle spat on the ground, and the dirt hissed and sizzled where his spit fell. “In-betweeners.”

“We prefer the term, “Watchers,” said Samuel.

“You think you scare me? You are no more welcome in heaven than I.”

“We have been pardoned,” he said and the ground seemed to swell under his feet. He was growing, no, he was rising. Genevieve saw the wings sprouting out from his back. He seemed to glow with a faint light. “Would you like to see?”

“Save your holiness,” gnashed Lyle between pointy teeth. He glanced at the smoldering wreck of the train. “My work is done here anyway.” He turned into the darkness and disappeared.

“Oh man,” said Gill as he slapped Gaven on the back. “That was a close one!” But he quieted as their Master, Samuel, turned towards them.

“Stay out of trouble, I said. Watch the town, I said. See what sort of exports are coming in. Are you three incapable of following instructions? Or are you just stupid!”

Genevieve flinched as she scrambled to her feet. His wings were still extended and although she couldn’t see his eyes beneath his green-blue sunglasses, she didn’t need to. She’d seen his eyes flash a silver and gold in a rage before.

“It was my fault.” She stepped forward as the two boys bowed their heads. “I told Gaven I thought there was something on the train. We came to investigate. Gill found us later.”

“I don’t care what happened,” said Samuel. “We can’t let them get the best of us, again.” He turned his head and his sunglasses flashed a teal color. “Do you even know what happened with the train? What they blew up?”

“We were working on that when you showed up,” mumbled Gaven.

“Shut up, you,” said Samuel, and then he jerked his head over to the wreck behind him and moved a smoldering piece of wood out of his path and set it down gently. “Well, let’s get this sorted out.”

Genevieve never seemed to know which side their Master was on. And it bothered her more than she cared to admit. Hot and cold, he ran. Like two different types of weather. It was exhausting.

Yes, the Watchers, or In-betweeners were pardoned, but if being forced out of Heaven to live on Earth was punishment, it certainly felt like it. They were alone. One of a kind, and yet never resting. Sometimes Genevieve felt like she ran a marathon that never ended, and she was always dying of thirst.

She watched Samuel turn over a burning log and pick up a smoldering box. She or the two boys would have hissed and been burned by the heat, but Samuel was a lot older than them. And he had his wings. She wondered if they would ever get a chance to earn wings.

“What is it?” she asked him.

Samuel cursed and threw the smoldering box into to dirt. “Food,” he hissed.

“Those fucking bastards,” said Gaven.

Samuel’s sunglasses flashed as he turned towards him. “Watch it.”

“So?” said Gillian. “What will that do? There’s plenty of food, here.”

The Master jerked his head toward her. “Tell them.”

“Well…not really,” said Genevieve.

“What do you mean?” said Gaven. “What did we just eat a few hours ago?” he laughed. “Dirt?”

“No, and the new districts are fine,” (she glanced around) “Here in old town is different.”

“What do you mean by that?” said Gaven.

“There’s a lot of poverty here. People depend on the free shipments the train brings in. Mostly stuff from the government. Goes into food pantries and the like.”

“The free shipments cut down on stealing,” said the Master. “The government finally found out that people were starving and stealing for food and they did something about it.”

“So without the food to keep people off the streets?” said Gaven, but he didn’t expect an answer.

“Well, shit,” said Gillian. “Mama ain’t gonna like this.”

“Shut up,” said Gaven as he smacked him in the head. “There will be riots over this stuff, idiot. We got our work cut out for us.”

“My foster parents are even depending on it,” said Genevieve.

“We’ll see that they are taken care of,” said Samuel.

“What about me?” said Genevieve and then she instantly regretted it as he turned towards her.

“What about you?”

She gestured to herself. “When will I be taken care of? My punishment? When will that be done?”

“When you’ve realized the seriousness of your actions.”

When I’ve realized the seriousness of my actions?” She was seeing her parents gray heads in the cemetery, her little sister’s bowed head. She took a deep breath. “I shouldn’t be punished for mourning for what I had. For missing those I loved.”

“No one is allowed to make contact,” said Samuel. “And you tried. Your little sister saw you.”

Genevieve bowed her head, her hands clasped in front of her. She was aware of the other boys growing quiet. “Forgive me, Master. I will not let you down. I will not forsake the mission. I am your servant, and a servant, always,” she breathed, although her heart felt broken. “I will protect, I will watch, and I will listen. I will be the eyes that are not seen, the ears that are not forgotten. I will be the sight for others who have none.”

The wind blew between the trees and one of the boys cleared their throat. She glanced up into the Master’s face and looked him in the eyes. Something that she had never done before. “Please,” she added. “Give me one more chance.”

And then something happened that she did not expect. Their Master sighed deeply and he pushed his green-blue shades on the top of his head. His gray eyes looked old and tired.

“So may it be.” He waved his hand and she felt a ripple of heat, and a tickling in her skin. She looked down at her long legs and red painted toes.

She sighed and looked up at Gaven and Gillian and smiled.

She was sixteen again and happy, and ready to save the world.

 

Part 4: Endtown (a short story)

There’s no excuse. I should have got this out to you guys on Thursday, and I am sorry. I won’t let writer’s fear get the best of me, or quit when the going gets rough. Whew. I am a strong, confident writer who can succeed and that’s that!

Anyway, here’s Part 4 of what was supposed to be Thursday night’s post. If you missed the previous post, you can view them on last week’s post Here. You will also find links to Part 1 and 2 there as well.

Endtown

0407131926aSo far, the story focuses on Genevieve, a young teen who died way too early. Both her and her friends find themselves in Limbo, or “the in-between,” in neither Heaven or Hell. They are offered the chance to make a difference in the war that the Angels are still fighting against the demons, who are trying to take over the earth.

Part 4:

The demon was still looking at them. “Your Master doesn’t know, does he?” He grinned, and Genevieve shuddered. His teeth were filed down to points, for gnawing on flesh.

“What are you going to do?” said Genevieve.

He looked the three of them over. “Oh, wouldn’t you like to know.”

 

          THE demon just stood there looking at them. Gen squirmed as she felt her stomach drop to her feet. Her skin itched; it felt like a hundred stinging ants were crawling across her stomach. She was burning. Her forehead was sweating. “He’s going to burn us from the inside out!” she gasped. Gaven and Gillian both groaned suddenly and dropped to their knees.

“Make him stop!” cried Gillian as he moved onto all fours.

“Do what?” cried Genevieve as she struggled to stay upright.

“There’s nothing to do,” gasped Gaven. “We’re already dead.”

“That you are,” said a voice that was familiar, and scary at the same time.

And there he stood next to the ugly bald-headed demon, looking resplendent in his white suit, and colored sunglasses. His face was slightly rough with a day’s worth of scruff, but other than that, the master looked smooth and handsome and powerful.

“Why are you here, Lyle? I hear your master is half-way around the world right now,” he said.

And then the pain fell away. Genevieve fell onto all fours next to the boys.

The demon named Lyle turned toward the master slowly. He scrunched up his already ugly face into a scowl. “Samyaza.”

“Please,” said the Master. “Samuel is fine.”

“Your name doesn’t matter to me,” hissed Lyle. “Who are you to question where I am?”

“It matters when you hurt,” (he said as he glanced at the three teenagers,) “Those that are close to me.”

Lyle spat on the ground, and the dirt hissed and sizzled where his spit fell. “In-betweeners.”

“We prefer the term, “Watchers,” said Samuel.

“You think you scare me? You are no more welcome in heaven than I.”

“We have been pardoned,” he said and the ground seemed to swell under his feet. He was growing, no, he was rising. Genevieve saw the wings sprouting out from his back. He seemed to glow with a faint light. “Would you like to see?” he said.

“Save your holiness,” gnashed Lyle between pointy teeth. He glanced at the smoldering wreck of the train. “My work is done here anyway.” He turned into the darkness and disappeared.

“Oh man,” said Gill as he slapped Gaven on the back as they both got to their feet. “That was a close one!” But he quieted as their Master, Samuel, turned towards them.

“Stay out of trouble, I said. Watch the town, I said. See what sort of exports are coming in. Are you three incapable of following instructions? Or are you just stupid?!”

Genevieve flinched as she scrambled to her feet. His wings were still extended and although she couldn’t see his eyes beneath his green-blue sunglasses, she didn’t need to. She’d seen his eyes flash a silver and gold in a rage before.

“It was my fault.” She stepped forward as the two boys bowed their heads. “I told Gaven I thought there was something on the train. We came to investigate. Gill found us later.”

“I don’t care what happened,” said the Master. “We can’t let them get the best of us, again.” He turned his head and his sunglasses flashed a teal color. “Do you even know what happened with the train? What they blew up?”

“We were working on that when you showed up,” mumbled Gaven.

“Shut up,” said the Master, and then he jerked his head over to the wreck behind him and moved a smoldering piece of wood out of his path and set it down gently. “Well, let’s get this sorted out.”

Genevieve never seemed to know which side their Master was on. And it bothered her more than she cared to admit. Hot and cold, he ran. Like two different types of weather. It was exhausting.

Yes, the Watchers, or In-Betweeners were pardoned, but if being forced out of Heaven to live on Earth was punishment, it certainly felt like it. They were alone. One of a kind, and yet never resting. Sometimes Genevieve felt like she ran a marathon that never ended, and she was always dying of thirst.

She watched the Master turn over a burning log and pick up a smoldering box. She or the two boys would have been burned by the heat, but Samuel was a lot older than them. And he had his wings. She wondered if they would ever get a chance to earn wings.

“What is it?” she asked him.

The Master cursed and threw the smoldering box into to dirt. “Food,” he hissed.

“Those fucking bastards,” said Gaven.

Samuel’s sunglasses flashed as he turned towards him. “Watch it.”

“So?” said Gillian. “What will that do? There’s plenty of food, here.”

The Master jerked his head toward her. “Tell them.”

“Well…not really,” said Genevieve.

“What do you mean?” said Gaven. “What did we just eat a few hours ago?” he laughed. “Dirt?”

“No, and the new districts are fine,” (she glanced around) “Here in old town is different.”

“What do you mean by that?” said Gaven.

“There’s a lot of poverty here. People depend on the free shipments the train brings in. Mostly stuff from the government. Goes into food pantries and the like.”

“The free shipments cut down on stealing,” said the Master. “The government finally found out that people were starving and stealing for food and they did something about it.”

“So without the food to keep people off the streets?” said Gaven, but he didn’t expect an answer.

“Well, shit,” said Gillian. “Mama ain’t gonna like this.”

“Shut up,” said Gaven as he smacked him in the head. “There will be riots over this stuff, idiot. We got our work cut out for us.”

“My foster parents are even depending on it,” said Genevieve.

“We’ll see that they are taken care of,” said The master.

“Great,” said Genevieve as she looked down at herself. “Is that all we’re taking care of? When can I be myself again?”

She thought she saw the Master grimace before he turned away. It was his fault that she found herself in the form of a twelve-year-old. It was her punishment, he had said. She shouldn’t have been sticking her nose where it didn’t belong.

But all Genevieve had been trying to do was make a difference in this world. Wasn’t that what they were here for anyway?

 

To Be Continued…Tune in next Thursday for more!

Happy Writing!

Short Story: “Panda”

I wrote this a few years ago as a writing prompt in one of my creative writing classes. I am having a great time digging these random stories out and sharing, otherwise they just lay there forgotten and some of them are amusing (at least to me!)

I think the prompt was something along the lines of:  A panda reads Kafka and visits New York City.


When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Pandas. I had a panda bedspread, and wallpaper and curtains. Also TONS of stuffed animals.

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Pandas. I had a panda bedspread, and wallpaper and curtains. Also TONS of stuffed animals.

“Panda”

The panda was having a hard time of it. The world was too big and lonely and it was hard for anyone, he thought, much less a panda, an endangered species, to find a companion in this world.

On a hope, he went to New York City. He read Kafka on the airplane as the old lady next to him peered at him over her spectacles and slapped irritably at some of the white fur which kept falling on her scarf.

The ten year old on his other side fell fast asleep and hugged him close and breathed him in, like he was a vast pillow pet.

He ordered two mojitos. He asked politely to the stewardess if she wouldn’t mind to please, please turn that Tropical Thunder down, it was giving him a headache. She had stared at him.

At the airport, the panda had a hard time finding his luggage. The baggage claim people were rude to him and people kept staring. Sure, he was a large panda. All pandas were and if he was a panda that happened to like Khaki shorts and large brightly colored tropical t-shirts, why so let it be. By the end of the day, he needed a drink.

He went to a club. One of those fancy kinds in Manhattan where all the cool, under-aged kids go. He ordered a mojito that cost him close to twenty dollars. He tried to find a corner to himself. Perhaps the club hadn’t been a good idea.

Outside in the fresh air, the Panda decided to regroup. He thought about all the things he wanted to do in NYC. It was perfect night for a walk.

Two blocks away from the club, he saw a woman several feet ahead of him stumbling up the sidewalk, swaying back and forth in a dance to the music in her head.

She was tall and wore a dark green dress, silver pumps and silver eyeglasses and red lipstick. Her hair was a vivid red.

“Are you hurt? Can I help you?” asked the Panda once he had hobbled up to her.

The woman swayed where she stood. “Who the hell are you?”

He put out an arm. She grabbed at his fur, nearly tipped over and tugged some tuffs of hair out. He gritted his teeth as he folded his arm around her waist and she leaned against him as they stumbled along.

“You’re quite hairy,” she observed. “Don’t you shave?”

“No,” said the panda.

“Black and white too…how old are you?” said the woman.

“Not too old.”

“Can you help me get home? I think my ride’s missing.”

“Yes. I could do that.”

“You’re such a nice one. So soft, and caring,” said the woman, as they swayed along.

“Yes, I am,” said the panda.

“And you listen…oh, why can’t all men be like you?”

“I don’t know.”

“Such big arms you have too!” She laughed. “I like such large shoulders on my man.”

The panda felt his face warm. “I work out.”

“I can tell…oh such, lovely, lovely fur you have!”

Fur? Yes, yes…he did have fur…

The woman stopped dead on the sidewalk as she looked up at him. “Wait a minute…”

“Yes?” said the Panda, daring not to move.

“You’re so very tall too!”

He sighed as she clutched his large arm in both of hers as they wobbled down the street.

Update: Schedule of Posts, and My short story, Endtown

It took me a while to figure it out, (probably longer than it should have) but I will be posting each Monday and Thursday night, with the weekends and days in between left for miscellaneous posts.

Thursday is of course the night where I will  post a short story, with a little bit more added to the story each post.

0407131926

The story is titled “Endtown,” which is turning into a paranormal/young adult short story. So far, the story focuses on Genevieve, a young teen who died way too early. Both her and her friends find themselves in Limbo, or “the in-between,” in neither Heaven or Hell. They are offered the chance to make a difference in the war that the Angels are still fighting against the demons, who are trying to take over the earth.

So far it is great practice for me, a journey-into-plot-as-I-go experience and so far I am loving it!

Last night, I posted more on “Endtown” a little later than I had planned, so if you missed it, you can view it Here. You will also find parts 1 and 2 there as well.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Happy Writing!

 

Part 3: Endtown (a short story)

Author’s Note –

I’m posting this tonight a little later than I thought, but I am very proud of how this story is going – it took itself in a direction that I hadn’t planned on, but is exciting!

If you haven’t read Part 1 and 2 that I posted the previous Thursdays, read them Here, and Here. Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy!


 

The train appeared on the track, rushing closer, growing bigger. Just as Genevieve was about to open her mouth to let Gaven know, there was a rush of heat, and white light and the front of the train exploded in the darkness.

 

     THEY were trying to rustle through the broken pieces in the darkness, lit only faintly by the burning embers of the wreck. Everything smelled of soot and burnt meat.

“There weren’t humans on this train was there?” she thought with horror.

“No,” said Gillian as he flipped over a burnt piece of wood. “The trains are used for cargo.”

In the darkness, Gen could see the faint outline of his dark cloak. He was the same age as Gaven, but where Gaven was muscular and tan, Gillian was pale, black-haired and gaunt. The three G’s the others sometimes called them, and other things…but Genevieve was just happy to have friends. Being dead could be a lonely thing sometimes.

Gaven came to stand by her then and she looked up at his shiny eyes. He grabbed her elbow suddenly as a figure stepped out from the darkness in front of the simmering embers of the train wreck. She had momentarily forgotten about the rest of the train, but its tail end still waited in the darkness, white, silent, and expecting.

“Oh, in-between-ers,” a voice hissed as it stepped closer. “This night just gets better and better.”

“Don’t come any closer,” said Gaven as he took a step forward.  “We are not here to fight you.”

“What are you here for then, if not to sabotage our plans?” said the voice, dark and raspy.

Gillian came up to stand on the other side of Genevieve. “We are here for answers,” he said. “There is no place for you here, demon.”

The figure laughed and Genevieve felt a chill in her heart. She could never be this evil. She felt a sudden feeling of hopelessness. Maybe she really was just a little girl after all.

“I can feel your hopelessness, your distrust,” said the figure. He lowered the dark hood that he wore. Besides a chill, he stank of fire and fish. His face was all white, his eyes were completely black. He had no hair, and a thin black slash for a mouth. “Tell me, how goes your revolution?”

“Our business is none of yours,” said Genevieve as she held Gaven’s arm. “What are you doing here?”

The figure tilted his head towards the cold wind that blew through the trees and stirred the ash at his feet. A glowing piece of wood glowed orange and then caught on fire. He studied his claw-like fingernails.  “I don’t waste my time talking to children. I wonder…does your master know your here?”

Genevieve remembered the first time she had met their master.

The thing they never tell you when you are saying your goodbyes: how quiet death is. For a long time she felt like she existed, except there are no formal introductions to the places you wake up in. In Sunday school she learned it this way: You go to Heaven if you are good; Hell is for the sinners and the unclean. But what she didn’t know, was that there were places that existed for the In-Between. Limbo wasn’t just for those who slept and never woke up.

Limbo was the place you went if you weren’t quite good enough. Limbo was for the punished who’d repented. It was for the few stranglers of the Great Fall, back when Lucifer had tried to make a claim to earth and all its inhabitants. A war they were still fighting, actually. Some from the Great Fall were trying to make right what they had done. Some were sent there because they weren’t quite done with where they had been. Some thought that it was a place to be alive again, but Genevieve wasn’t so sure. Neither Angel or Demon, the “In-between-ers” were neither living or dead. They possessed the skills and strengths of an Angel and Immortality but they weren’t all-seeing like some, and they had the limitations of a human body.

Genevieve felt like a broken record sometimes, living a life that she had a few times before. Moments never change, regrets still exist and living life like a human constantly reminded her how fragile and stupid they were sometimes. She was sick of making the same mistakes over and over again.

But the man they called Master gave them a purpose. They were the insiders, helping to fight a war that the Angels struggled with. They could blend in, they could be the eyes in every corner.

She vaguely remember Heaven, as a warm place as she was fighting for life. She remembered struggling to breathe, twisting her arms around in the murky river, trying to kick at the thick, car window. Between bursts of unconsciousness, she felt warmth surround her and then there was nothing. She woke up in a white room. There was no smell, no breeze, nothing. Just an ever present fog and the feeling that she had forgotten something, left something behind.

She wore a hospital gown and sat up on a bed that you normally see in a doctor’s office when you are getting a check-up. A man approached. He wore dark rimmed glasses and had a Clark Kent type of feel, and a presence about him, a strength. His eyes were not natural either, they were a wide blue-almost purple, and his ears were pointed at the tip. He wore a white lab coat. When he was closer, Genevieve could see the tops of feathered wings poking over his shoulders.

“You’re awake,” he said. “Good.”

“You’re an Angel,” she said, and was surprised to hear her own voice. It had felt like a long time.

He sat down in a desk chair that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. “Sort of.” He eyed her over a manila folder that had also appeared in his hand. “First time driver, huh?”

Genevieve blinked at him. “I’d rather not talk about it.”

He rolled back in his chair as he looked at her. “Let me put it this way for you. Heaven is not quite ready for you, you’re too good for Hell, and you were too young to die. Sixteen…” He shook his head then. “You are supposed to have the whole world in front of you. What if I said you could make a difference for others instead?”

That was how it had started.

The demon was still looking at them. “Your Master doesn’t know, does he?” He grinned, and Genevieve shuddered. His teeth were filed down to points, for gnawing on flesh.

“What are you going to do?” said Genevieve.

He looked the three of them over. “You’ll never know.”

To Be Continued Next Thursday…