Tag Archives: Short story

The Rain Keeps Falling – short story 715 words

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I am part of some really grate writing groups on LinkedIn, one of them dose a monthly short story contest, the group is lively with lots of active members.  I haven’t  joined in on one of these monthly contest yet, (mind you its just for fun, and practice our righting, and righting outside our comfort zones.) but I figured it was worth a shot. All the competitions have a different set of parameters, but all are 600-715 words. This one was suspense, it had to start with someone on their day off, and end with them getting news that will change their life.

I have never written suspense before, and none of my other short stories are under 1,000 words, I thinks that’s why this one interested me. So here it is, my entry I didn’t get to enter.

The Rain Keeps Falling

715 words

She leaned against the island in the middle of the kitchen, a fresh cup of coffee in hand, staring out the big bay window, past the dirty glass and out into the gray damp morning. “Of course, it had to rain today. All I wanted to do was pull the weeds, my poor flowers look like they are lost in a jungle.”

Taking a sip from her cup, she nearly drops it as the freshly brewed coffee sears the tip of her tongue. Setting the cup down she slowly scans her home, the thick dust with little paw prints scattered through it, a sink full of coffee cups and spoons, a dead bouquet in a dry vase. “I really have let this place go haven’t I Storm? What am I to do when it’s just you and me?” She says scratching the little gray tiger striped cat under her uplifted chin.

Her cell phone breaks the silence ringing with Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 9. She let it play on for a moment before answering. “Good morning, Stacy Smitten speaking.”

“Good Morning Miss. Smitten. Mr. Cotter wanted more copies printed up for your presentation. You know the one he reassigned to Mike Garfield. Any way I need your password so I can get to the files. It’s right on your desktop right?” Stacy’s young and anxious intern Mandy asked in a slightly wavering voice, always the kiss up hiding behind a blocky pair of red plastic glasses, but full of potential, and Stacy’s favorite.

“You always sound like you think you’re in trouble Mandy, try calming down now and then would you. Yes on the desk top you cannot miss it, and the password, it’s ‘come home soon’, every other letter in caps starting with the first letter. I feel like I haven’t been home in ages, is there anything else?” She said sounding only a little aggravated, after all she had given the girl this information several times before she left the office for her week off.

“Right Miss. Smitten, sorry, I know I um… sorry. If I can ask ma’am… has there been any word yet?” The girl asked, more timidly than usual.

“No, nothing yet, but I know he is out there, he has to be. Thank you for asking Mandy, good bye.” she hung up her cell phone without waiting for the girl to respond. “She meant well at least.”

She took a long deep swallow of her coffee, taking in the quiet morning again. “Nothing like that first cup of coffee in the morning.”

She looked out the cloudy window once again hoping to see the rain clouds broken and the sun shining bright, but beyond the dust-covered glass all she found was a wall of water. “Now what am I to do? Cleaning really doesn’t interest me, there’s no point when no one will be coming over. I’m talking to myself again. Let’s just say I was talking to you stormy, that sounds better.” She says giving the cat a little scratch between the ears.

“Maybe a little T.V. will help fill the quiet. Some day Max will fill that quiet with the pitter-patter of my grandchildren’s feet. He will make such a wonderful father and husband one day.” She said to the loudly purring bundle of fur as she pet her, flipping through the channels with her free hand. Disappointed she shut the T.V. off, and drank some more of her coffee.

A nock on the door made her jump, “Now who is could that possibly be?” She walked to the door slowly and peered out the tiny window, only the top of a soaked army green hat, and a wet pink cheek visible through the small glass pain.

Her heart jumping she says “Max.”

Taking a deep breath, she wipes a single tear from her cheek, and opens the door slowly.

Standing in the pouring rain she sees three somber faced youths, fully dressed in all there army finery, the one in front holding a folded American flag. Her heart drops like a stone to the bottom of her stomach, slowly she sinks to the floor, as she whispers “No”. Her tears flow and everything fades away, but the rain keeps falling as she sits alone.

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Whats New With You?

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Hey everyone,

So hows things? Its been quite some time hasn’t it? You know how life can get in the way some times. Yeah, I even turned off my computer for two months strait. Let me tell you it wasn’t easy, but I had to do it for my family. I realized I spend a lot of time on my computer, yes I am a writer but that doesn’t make it easier on my kids to have my time taken up with writing.

Things have changed a lot over the past few months though. I finished my children’s book Willie The Wood Gnome, it feels good to just have it done and be happy with the end result. Though my co-writer did not contribute to the finale draft, only the first. I took a couple weeks to research my next steps to get my labor of love out into the world. I sent it off to two agents and one publisher I felt suited the manuscript. I heard back from the publisher within a couple days, I was surprised to say the least. They said “We look forward to reading your manuscript! We will get back to you within three months with our decision.” It will be three months on the 22nd of next month, and I have been biting my nails (metaphorically speaking) the hole time! At the same time I have been speaking with a very wonderful woman I meant on Linkedin. I asked her, not realizing she ran her own small publishing company, if she would take a look at my manuscript because a family member had said the scan was off. She said yes and I sent it to her after my time off from my computer was over. Long story short: Willie The Wood Gnome is going to get published, and best of all I get to do the art like I want! Now if only I could get out of my rut with my novels and I would be doing great.

So tell my how have you been? Have you struggled with work through the holidays. Have you been stuck on a project? Have things gone well? I always love to hear what your up to 😀

Happy Writing

M.A.W.

A New Home For Celestria

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Boy I don’t write enough on here, but with all my projects I can’t seem to find the time for everything. So what do I do, I rotate them all. Now when my last laptop broke down I lost some of my novel Helix, I guess  I had lost some of my momentum do to that. Then I got another e-mail from Glimmer Train Press about there latest writing contest. The contest is long over now, and no I didn’t submit a short story like I wanted to. I found out about it kind of late because I didn’t always have a computer to use. I started working on a short story for the contest, finally inspired to write again. I started writing it by hand, after writing about three or four pages I was unhappy and rewrote it. It got to be about a week before the deadline, and I realized I couldn’t finish it in time and be happy with the end result. That is when I decided to just write it and put it out there. Now it seems it will be a novella, not a short story. Now I have a new laptop and I am transcribing what I have so far onto the computer, tweaking it as I go. So I thought I would post part one and see what you all think. It has been a long time seance I posted some of my work, so I’m happy I can today.

I haven’t had anyone edit it yet, so here we go.

A New World for Celestria

“ I love you. Be brave my child.” An old gray woman said from the corner of the room, coughing hard as she looked on.

“ I love you too grandma, goodbye. Please don’t cry for me.” A young girl said with tears streaming down her face.

The girl blew her grandmother a kiss before beginning to recite an enchant spell of transportation. She sat in the center of a large cercal, the edge marked with the four elements.  A vile of water taken from the last lake before it dried up, pure and untainted. A potted plant with three frail yellow flowers. A small candle of black wax, burning bright in the dark room. A jar of unpolluted air, the cork sealed with crimson wax. The girl representing the fifth element, spirit.

Her words rise into the air, her vice filling the room. The vile of water began to bubble and rise, popping the lid. Small beads of water float out all around her, spinning and bouncing off each other. The flowers petals drifted through the air, gently resting on her flesh. One by one they lining her arms and legs, her spine and collarbone, the last placing it’s self upon her forehead. The soil from the pot pored out moving across the floor, twisting and weaving into an intricate design, branches curving around to meet roots, creating the tree of life. Little flames danced off the stark black candle, swaying back and forth as they fill the edge of the circle. The jar of air started to bounce and bob until the wax sealed cork burst off, the fresh air rushing around her, lifting her hair as she breathed it in deeply. A glowing light emanated from her as she started the end of her spell, it spread out to fill the circle. The air turned up into the star filled night, swirling the elements around her in a vortex. A numb feeling moved out from the center of her body with every heartbeat, as the swirling magic reaches so high she can no longer see the sky. A little gleam of light caught her eye, sparkles like flakes of gold turning and twisting through the air. She looked down to her hands to see her flesh and bone disintegrating, the shining particles spin high into the vortex and disappear. A soft white light came to fill every corner of her vision.

The driving force transporting her slowed with a rhythmic pulsing. She came to a rest on the soft damp grass of an open field of wild flowers. Her body finally felt whole, but she couldn’t will it to move, or her voice to make a sound.

A loud, and deep rumbling noise came barreling towards her. Then above her she heard a man yell “Men! Over here!”

The man bent down close, brushing the hair from her face, his finger gently dragging against her skin. He spoke softly to her. “You are safe now fair maiden of magic. Rest now, we will take you to safety.”

She fell into a deep sleep, giving into the darkness that surrounded her.

**************

“You must get some rest your highness. It has been three days you have not left the lady’s side.” The voice of an older man came through as the dark fog began to leave her mind. His words reassuring.

“I will not leave her side, not until she wakes.” The voice from before, deep and velvety, making her feel safe.

Her eyelids felt heavy as she forced them to open, blinking her vision clear. The sun shone bright through a tall window beside her bed, blinding her momentarily. Her mouth felt dry, like her tong was mad of sand. Her body ached deep down into the bones, with a throbbing and stinging pain. Her head finally felt calm and clear.

“She wakes Amalric. Send my servant to fetch food and drink at once” His voice changed as he commanded, became deeper, harder then before.

“Ware am I?” She struggled to sit up, pain shooting through every muscle of her body.

“You are in my castle, my lady.” He smiled at her warmly. Everything about him said strength and kindness to her.

“How long have I been sleeping?” She returned his smile with her own, taking in his features.

“Three days my lady.” He said.

His eyes so gentle and kind when he spoke, green as the leaves on the tree outside her window. His hair as dark as a starless night. His face chiseled, as if made of stone, but his skin was smooth and lightly bronzed. She stared at him for a long moment, stunned by his beauty.

Neither of them noticed Amalric leaving the room.

“I have waited to ask sense I found you that day. What is your name? ” He waited with excitement.

“Celestria, Celestria Stroepa. If I may ask, what is your name?” Her insides felt as if they where jumping around as they spoke. So close to each other she could feel the warmth of his skin.

“I am Prince Alderan, of the Kingdome Abalone. Smell the salt in the air, we are atop a cliff by the sea. Celestria, my lady of the stars, I welcome you to our kingdom.” He bowed his head to her, a smile glinting on his face when he said ‘my lady’.

“Lady of the stars? I think I like that, but why do you call me that?” she asked.

“You came to us from the heavens, in a great beam of starlight. I rode out with my best men to find the source, and I found you. So I brought you back here to Amalric. He is our court physician, and miner sorcerer.” He handed her a cup, a foul smelling liquid sloshing around inside. “Go ahead. Amalric said it would help with your pain, and getting you back on your feet sooner.”

She tried not to smell it as she gulped it down, but the smell was nothing compared to the taste, making her stomach heave as she forced it to hold on to it contents.

A servant boy of maybe sixteen years knocked on the doorframe. The prince waved the boy in, behind him entered three bigger men carrying a large round table, and two carved chairs. The boy set the table with several silver plates of food, colorful fruits overflowed one plate, flakey breads and creamy cheeses, meats and eggs. The boy placed two empty plates and goblets on the table, a pitcher of something sweet smelling between them.

“Shall I serve your highness?” He asked in a meek tone.

“You may go. Set out my formal dress.”  He waved the four of them away, and they where alone once more.

He turned to her, his hand outstretched to help her out of her cot. “You must be famished.” He said as he led her to the table, pulling out her chair for her.

He pored some of the sweet smelling drink for the two of them, and sat beside her. The prince watched her as she ran her fingers over the table top, tracing the lines  carved by hand in its dark wood.

Celestria recognized the never ending loops and twists of the Tree of Life carved in the table’s top. She glanced up at the prince, to embarrassed to hold her gaze when she noticed he was watching her. She shifted in her seat a little, she looked at the food before her, food she had never seen in real life.

“What is wrong Celestria? Do you not like the meal? I can send someone to fetch you anything you desire.” He said with a hint of disappointment in his voice.

“No, not at all Prince Alderan. Please forgive me. I come from a very different place from this. I am stunned by the beauty of it all, taken back by the differences of our worlds. It makes the life I left behind seem even worse then it had before. I never knew my world in a time of green like this, nor did my grandmother, or her grandmother. All of this is wonderful, thank you Prince Alderan.”  She said with a sheepish grin.

She bowed her head and her cheeks grew worm and flushed red. The prince lifted her gaze to meat his own.

He spoke softly, like the first time she heard his voice. “You, my lady of the stars, can call me Alderan. You my lady are my equal, perhaps even my superior.”

She clasped his hand beneath her chin, sending shivers down his spine. His hole body tingled, as if he had been waiting his hole life to feel her touch. He bent down and gently kissed her hand, caressing it with his lips gently. The prince moved closer to her, still holding her hand he looked deep into her eyes. He couldn’t tear himself away from her sky blue eyes, streaked with violet. It was like seeing the sky meat a field of violet, mixing into purity. Her cream colored skin, soft as silk to his touch. Her black spiral curls falling down around her, glinting with a hint of purple in the sunlight, spiraling down to reach the small of her back. Alderan wanted nothing more then to kiss her lips, lips like the deepest red rose in their garden. He leaned in hoping she wanted the same.

Amalric entered and cleared his throat. “I am terribly sorry to interrupt highness. My lady, you are looking well now. You should eat some, you have lost your strength. King Galvarium has requested you join him in the main hall. When you have eaten and dressed your servant will lead you there. You and I should speak at a later time.” His eyes held  great wisdom. He looked to her like a short little gray man, but she could feel his magic, a caring and healing nature to his sole.

A petite young woman walked in behind him. She bowed to the prince and then to Celestria. More servants walked in behind her, they carried several dresses of different colors and fabrics. Jars of varying sizes containing powders and creams, lotions and oils.

“I am Elinor, my lady. As soon as you are ready I can prepare you for your meeting with the king.” She bowed again to the two of them, and went about her work.

Celestria watched as the girl hurried around the room. She hung the dresses in a row along the wall. She filled a small table with the jars, and brushes made of soft hair in different sizes.

Celestria went back to eating her meal, glancing back at the prince wondering, ‘ why hasn’t he said anything about my strange behavior? My manner of speaking and actions must seem strange to them.’

Celestria stood, feeling more like her self. No, more then she had been before. She whispered to no one but the air. “Everything is so elegant in this time, so bright and full of life. How can I hope to fit in when I come from such a dark world?”

Not once had the prince taken his eyes from her. He watched every graceful movement, listened to every songlike syllable her voice made. “My dear, lovely lady of the stars, you are the most beautiful and magical being in my kingdom. With all my heart I hope for your happiness here. I must take my leave my lady. I will make arrangements for your own chambers before joining you and my father in the great hall.”

He kissed her hand, lingering just a moment. He bowed and turned, walking out with swift, smooth steps. Celestria watched him as he left, her heart skipping a beat when Alderan looked back at her before passing through the door.

The girl’s voice chimed behind her, a little two high pitched. “My lady, your garments are prepared.”

“Thanx. Elinor is your name right?” Celestria felt silly when the girl gave her a funny little look. “I am sorry, I meant thank you. We speak a little differently then you do.”

“If I may ask my lady. What do you mean we, where do you hail from?” She asked sheepishly, cowering.

Celestria gave the girl a kind smile, and brushed the girl’s bangs out of her face. “I’m not going to heart you.” Celestria walked over to the ornate dressing screen, considering how much to tell the girl, or anyone for that matter. “For now lets just say I come from a very different place then this. A place I can never get back to. I’m sorry I can’t say more, but I’m not sure what’s going on yet, or what the king wants from me. I hope you can understand.”

“I do understand my lady. Besides I am only a servant, I have no place to ask.” The girl said, starring at the floor.

Celestria wanted to tell her she was fine with her, but she wasn’t sure how long she would be there. When she learned more she could talk with the girl then. Something had scared this girl down to her core.

Celestria gave the girl a big smile, and went back to the dresses hanging in front of her. Bright colored fabrics she had never seen, fabrics that seemed to shimmer and sparkle in the light. One in particular caught her eye. A ruby red corset embroidered with burgundy flowers and swirling vines. The sleeves a fabric she could see through, hanging off the shoulder, flowing and wide at the bottom like a flower rapped around the arm. The skirt of the dress was made of deep red silk, embroidery matching the corset hemming the bottom. The thought of wearing such a beautiful color for the first time filled her with excitement. Celestria admired it a moment longer before taking it down, and heading for the dressing screen.

“Elinor, Would you give me a hand? I’m not sure how to close the back.” She said a little embarrassed.

“Yes my lady. These garments are meant to be laced by another, like me my lady.” Elinor said.

Elinor weaved the back of the corset with a burgundy cord effortlessly. Elinor adjusted the sleaves, tugging softly at the top. She knelt down, inspecting the bottom of the skirt.  She pulled and turned and fluffed the layers of Celestria’s dress.

“Perfect, now we can do your hair my lady. How would you like it done?” Elinor asked as she had Celestria sit down at the table.

A knock came at the door. Elinor walked over and opened it to find the prince’s servant. He held in his hands a carved box of wood, glinting metal adorned the corners.

“My lady” He bowed. “The prince has sent you a welcoming gift.” He placed the box on the table in front of Celestria. He stepped back bowing to her again and left without another word.

Celestria ran her fingers along the top of the box, tracing vines full of flowers.

Stuck In My Head rewrite

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This is a rewrite of a poem I did about writers block. If you want to see the first version check through my archives. I am very happy with this rewrite, it says more then it did before. Not only about my writers block, but blending the pain and joys of my life into my writing. Hope you all enjoy. Leave me a comment and tell me what you think!

Stuck In My Head

Stuck in my head, what a sad place to be.

Words run round yet they elude me.

Images flash by, some real some only mine.

Sweet and colorful, terrifying and dark.

A mix of emotion blending to paint a picture of my being.

The mind of a tormented soul, both light and dark.

I stomp, I scream, I let it all out, no one hears me alone in the dark.

Dust rolls up, desert all about, no oasis to satisfy my thirst.

I wish for peace but my mind scrambles about.

Thoughts of dark times, past but still here tainting the joys of my life.

Am I to stay for all time, to run round desperate to fly.

If only you’d come lift me to the sky I could catch those thoughts that fly by.

I sit and I wait, wish for only you, hands full of desperate tears as they pool.

Mind full of hurt and love, joy and pain, yet my hands sit idly by with nothing to say.

How long shall I roam this desolate plain my mind calls home, unable to return.

Where have you gone, I beg wont you come save me from this depressing fate.

Still I sit and wait for your return, knight in shining armor won’t you come, return me to a life outside this dark and hurt filled hole.

Hands held high I will wait for the touch that brings me to life once more.

Artist of the ‘Week’: Dark Writing 8: David J. Rodger Part two

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Before we get to the story David was so kind as to provide me with for this post I have just a few things to say.

First and foremost I have to apologise to all my readers. The past couple weeks have been hard and made it impossible to do any of my normal activities. I was unable to paint, sketch, writer, or blog. Which is a sham when you think about the fact that I had started a dark short story just to try my hand at it and share it with all of you. It seems when the shit hits the fan it hits all at once, but so goes the life of a mother, wife, and sister. I do not complain when I need to take care of my family physically or mentally but it leaves little time for my self. So Please forgive my absence for I am back and have a great read for you all.

Second I have to say thank you David! David gave me two of his short stories to choose from to post, both fantastic stories. They where both so good I had a hard time picking which one two post, and I wish I could share both with you. I suggest to every reader if you are into si-fi and the dark subscribe to his blog or facebook page or twitter, I leave you a link to both.

http://davidjrodger.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/David-J-Rodger/10090348898

https://twitter.com/#!/davidjrodger

Now to the story

SIM

By David J. Rodger

Copyright © David J Rodger 2011
David J Rodger has asserted his right under the
Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988
to be identified as the author of this work.

Sim-Stim
– Simulated Stimulation
 Pre-recorded experience that a user plays back via
SQUID headwear or a direct neural interface.
 Also called sim, socket junk, stim, brain candy; also
{illegal} blackjack, death-rim.
 Users typically experience all five senses, enhanced via
post-production techniques; but can choose to de-select any
of the sensory inputs. It is advised to always be sitting or
lying down during sim-stim immersion.
 Addiction to Total Sensory Immersion is becoming a
growing problem amongst the user-base (Jennings, Wilson,
Cheung; Pharmacology for the Fantasy Gene)
 Sim-Stim is predominantly entertainment based (73%
sex-industry DAglow Market Trends) but there is increasing
applications for training and PR.
 Sim-Stim actors are now the highest paid artists in the
entertainment industry.
 Patent holder: RoGong Corporation; largest market
share distributer of recording/ playback tech: Nascent Virm
[update via BullHype ~ Zendori Corp has recently launched
state-of-the-art SIM-WEAVE bioware, expected to grab
largest market within next 6 months]

Ulrich Drake surfaced back to consciousness with sunlight
spattering his eyelids. Blinking in the mid-morning light he
saw the silhouettes of leaves fluttering back and forth
across the cream-coloured walls of the private room; foliage
of the trees beyond the windows of the clinic caught in a
spring breeze. Lying motionless in the firm but comfortable
bed, it took a few moments to cognise where he was and
what had happened.
“Hello Mr Drake,” a professionally brusque male voice
came from his left.
Turning his head Drake saw a young, serious faced
man, standing by the bed wearing the neatly pressed white
smock of a medic. Drake touched the inside of his cheek
with his tongue, opened his mouth and stretched the
muscles of his face. He’d been unconscious. Anaesthetic.
The medic allowed a brief smile to part his lips, then
nodded once, “You’ll be feeling confused and disorientated
for a few minutes. It will pass, along with any nausea you
might be experiencing.”
His throat hurt and he became aware of an ache
swelling up from the base of his skull, hot, sickly, pushing
out sweat across his forehead.
“We’ll continue pain management for a couple of days
whilst the implant beds in and your brain adjusts to the
new nerves. There’s been some swelling of your
corticobulbar tract so you’ll experience some discomfort and
unusual sensations around your face, head and neck.
Apart from that it’s been a complete success. Mr Warner
wants to see you if you’re ready.”
Warner. Jack Warner. CEO of Zendori Corp. Drake
frowned with the effort of his mind reaching after smoky
memories; he knew Jack but couldn’t quite visualise the
relationship. They were business partners, but there was
something else lost beyond a mental fog that seemed to
form as he tried to recall.
Strange, he mused.
“Well Ulrich, yet again you bounce back with the stamina of
a man thirty years younger,” Jack Warner enthused;
gesticulating with his hands in an easy manner, standing
over the small wrought iron table where Drake was eating
breakfast outside in the garden of the clinic.
Drake smirked; knowing that Warner, with his weedy
figure, narrow shoulders and pot-belly paunch, was secretly
jealous of his athletic build. In his mid-40s, Warner was
only five years younger than Drake yet the man had
obviously done little to look after himself.
“You should get yourself out from behind that desk of
yours and come join me for a spot of Tenko training,” Drake
responded airily; not actually serious. He sipped a tall glass
of freshly squeezed orange juice and allowed his gaze to
soak up the view of wild meadows in the foothills of vast
mountains.
Warner made a tight hum-noise through his nasal
passage then clasped his hands together.
“Somebody has to run the business side of things,
Ulrich. Not all of us can afford to get our hands…dirty.”
There was a strange note to the statement. Drake
glanced up at the CEO and found him gazing back at him
with unusual intensity, brown eyes glittering in the early
morning sunlight.
The moment stretched and became significant; Warner
was searching his face for some kind of response but it
became apparent he wasn’t getting it. Whether this was a
good thing or not, he had no comprehension. Drake felt the
hairs on the back of his neck prickle up.
Then abruptly, with a flicker of intrigue crossing his
face, Warner untangled his hands and moved the
conversation on.
The new implant was a beta-version of an upgrade to
Zendori Corp’s Sim-Weave. Like the launch-version, it
facilitated record and play-back of sim-stims; incorporated a
dispersed WAM (Wet Access Memory) for secure internal
data-storage and was connected to a broadcast chip,
allowing data to be squirted via any phone-tag to an
external storage host.
The upgrade brought a raft of new features but the
unique-selling-point was Life-Ride. Multiple users of the
sim-weave implant could, if they had the upgrade, dial-into
the experience a single other user. The concept was to
experience a live stim-stim feed rather than a pre-recorded
production.
Warner visibly fizzed with anticipation as he predicted
sky-rocketing profits and a blitzkrieg on Nascent Virm’s
market share.
The applications beyond entertainment (adrenaline
sports were a key target) and the sex-industry were
enormous; particularly in the field of intelligence gathering;
checking on the whereabouts of bonded criminals (wealthy
criminals, as they would be the only class likely to afford a
sim-weave implant), and high-spec/high-risk training such
as engineering and technical careers in orbit and deep
space.
Drake finished the orange juice and stretched his long,
thick-set limbs. He was restless. Warner picked up on it
like a coach:
“Time to bail you out of here, Ulrich. Marcus will run
you through the new features of the implant. And I’ve
arranged a little ‘something special’ for you tonight. A town
not far from here. You can drop in as you drive back to the
airport.”
Drake tilted his head and looked at him with a raised
eyebrow, a slow smile curving his lips. Something special
was code for their mutual passion for high-class prostitutes;
that much about their friendship he could recall, although
he was fuzzily aware there were still areas about their
business relationship lost beyond the mental fog: a lingering
side-effect of the surgery, no doubt.
Warner matched his smile then shifted his gaze to the
distant mountains. “She’s a real ball-breaker. There’s a
place by the airport for you to clean up when you’re
finished; I’ve written the details down for you. You’re going
to want to sleep like a baby on the flight after this.”
The address was a private house on the edge of a sparse
forest; the headlights of a nearby main road stuttered
through the intervening trees. It was a small but very
comfortable-looking structure, well-maintained, a lot of
wood and glass. The sun had only set half an hour ago but
the temperature had already dropped enough to make him
shiver; there was also the nerve-tingling anticipation of
illicit gratification ahead.
Drake had left the rental car parked further down the
narrow track and walked to the front door, as instructed.
He suspected there would be cameras watching his arrival
and progress; a woman didn’t work in this line of business
without some form of security – even if clients were only
invited through personal recommendations. There wouldn’t
be a thug in the basement sitting ready with a baseball bat
and a Rottweiler; this set-up was in an entirely upper class.
The woman met him at the front door; introduced
herself as Lorna, wrapped in an outfit of shimmering pink
silk. Slim, quite beautiful, only a touch of make-up, the
underlying hardness to her features softened by balms that
left her skin healthy and radiant; she had the figure and
movements of a ballet dancer and the easy smile of a
hostess.
Once inside, she served him a stiff alcoholic drink whilst
small talk established how much time he had to spend and
a confirmation of his particular taste in pleasure; polite
euphemisms around submission or domination.
Domination was his preferred theme.
He’d noticed that all the mirrors seemed to have been
removed, so asked about it.
“Your assistant made the request when booking me
tonight,” she responded, un-phased; probably used to
facilitating unusual requests. “Some people don’t like to be
confronted by a view of what they’re doing.”
Her comment made him pause.
“Make yourself comfortable,” she told him with a
coquettish turn of her head; “I’ll go and prepare everything
upstairs. Feel free to come and join me in about five
minutes.”
Drake smirked over the rim of his glass and felt the
blood surging around his groin. The drink stung the soft
flesh of his mouth, stimulated smoky buds of his tongue
and seared the back of his throat with twenty-year old fire.
His brain responded with a release of tension.
He watched her climbing the slatted-wooden staircase;
focussed on the tight curves of her arse pressing against the
silk. His pulse quickened, his breathing became shallow.
Then he heard a sound; like a – snick, which could have
come from across the other side of the room or right beside
him. But before he could twist round to check, a sensation
like an insect sting bit into his skull behind his left ear.
Then everything went black.
Drake found himself on the sofa, firm fabric upholstery
pressed up against his skin. There were no lights on.
Broad shafts of moonlight sloped into the room through the
many windows. Trees crowded the space outside.
What the hell happened?
He struggled to recall; grunted as he heaved himself up
with heavy limbs into a sitting position. His head felt
swollen, his thoughts sluggish.
Fragments of memory began swirl into the focus of his
mind. The sharp sting…
Reaching a hand up to the affected area of his skull he
couldn’t feel anything like a puncture mark or insect bite. A
little further up was the tiny scab forming around the scar
tissue of the recent implant.
His fingers did feel strange though; slightly sticky as if
coated in something.
Bringing his hand in front of his face a jolt of shock
ripped through him. His hand was almost entirely black,
smeared in a drying substance that was velvet smooth to
his touch.
His other hand was just the same.
Widening his area of focus, he looked down at his
clothes and saw his once white crisp business shirt was
now heavy and damp with dark fluid.
He pushed himself up onto his feet, glancing rapidly
around him. Confusion riding the beating wings of fear.
Oh my God what is this?
The sofa was stained in places where his hands and
shirt had touched.
More stains on the deep pile carpet, in the shape of shoe
prints, leading to the sofa from the staircase.
Drake staggered over to a lamp poised above a glass
coffee table and flicked the switch.
Electric light flooded this part of the room and a
guttural sound of horror burst through his lips.
In the moonlight the stains were black but now he saw
they were bright scarlet. Blood. He was covered in blood.
Where was Lorna? Where was the woman? Why was the
house so quiet? Why was everything dark?
“Lorna?” He called out her name, coughing
immediately. His mouth was bone dry.
The absence of a response sent a chill shudder down his
spine and left his scalp tingling.
His eyes raked the floor and walls but nothing seemed
out of place. Just the awful blood.
The smudged footprints held his gaze. He followed them
across the carpet to the wooden slatted stairs.
Just beneath the bottom step was a pair of partly
inverted rubber gloves, smeared in blood; as if torn off in
haste and thrown to the floor.
He tried to call out Lorna’s name again but his throat
clenched up with fear at the idea now forming in his brain.
Lurching forwards, he crossed to the staircase and
trudged rigidly up the steps.
The steps ended in a sort of play room build into the
attic space; this wasn’t the main upstairs part of the house
he’d observed from outside; another staircase must have led
there.
The darkness was elevated into an alabaster tainted
gloom, punctured by the bright moon shining down through
skylights overhead.
The air was heavy with the smell of sex, sweat and
something else.
He was straining to identify the smell when his gaze
locked onto the figure of a person, suspended in a nearly
horizontal position from chains attached to the sloping
ceiling. A sex harness. The naked figure was a black
cardboard cut-out silhouette in the moonlight. How could
such an outline belong to a human being?
Lying forwards, straps around the chest and hips, limbs
splayed outwards and held aloft by cuffs and chains. A
strap had been wrapped around the ankles and fastened to
a head-rig, so tight it had the head pulled back at an
impossible angle.
Then Drake saw why and the sight seared itself into his
brain: a savage gap in the silhouette where her throat
should have been.
Ice water was seeping into his veins. His scalp
contracted. Goosebumps rippled across his flesh.
He stared. He noted the long hair hanging down. The
outline of her breasts.
With fumbling, blood-stained hands, he patted the walls
at the top of the staircase and eventually found a light
switch. He flicked it on.
When he saw the mutilated condition of the body his
knees buckled beneath him and he dropped to the floor,
retching and hyperventilating in a twin twist of disgust and
panic.
His eyes rolled in their sockets but his gaze never
seemed to waver from the grotesque sight of the woman’s
dangling corpse. Yet even though he stared with morbid
fascination, the majority part of his mind shrank away.
Coughing, puking, gasping, he fought the fear he might
choke and wrestled to bring his breathing under control.
He was faintly aware he was wailing and making
incomprehensible sounds that might have been words.
Arterial blood sprays were arced and spattered across
the walls and ceiling, all around where she hung. Several
pools of blood covered the carpet below her. There was so
much blood on the carpet the stains were still wet with dark
rings of congealing crust around the edges.
Her throat had been completely hacked away, leaving a
thick sliver of muscle, tissue and spinal chord at the back
connecting her head to her body. Drake could almost see
into her chest cavity through the ruined mess.
The face had been savaged with some type of sharp
instrument that cut crudely, tearing the soft flesh rather
than neatly slicing it.
A sharp knife must have been used where her abdomen
had been sliced open in one deep cut. The edges of the long
wound bulged monstrously with the weight of intestines
ready to fall out of her, although some of the long loops of
vivid coloured innards had already slipped out, or been
tugged loose, to dangle in the blood below; thick bundles of
greasy tissue, a smear of vile colours, pink, yellow, purple
and scarlet.
Drake doubled-over as his guts contracted violently and
he retched with a loud wailing sound, bringing up nothing
but gastric acid and saliva.
Pushing himself backwards and then up into a halfcrawl,
half-crouch, he made it back to the stairs and
staggered down them; close to collapsing, dazed and numb
with the turbulent emotions.
Reaching the bottom he stood motionless, blindly
staring at the sofa unable to decide what to do. He absently
wiped strands of saliva and vomit from his chin with the
back of his wrist.
An icon appeared within his field of vision, ghost-like,
superimposed by the implants interlinking his visual cortex,
sensorium, synaptic bridge, WAM and neural processor. It
told him a new sim-stim recording had been processed and
was ready for viewing.
What…?
His mind trailed off into silence as it registered the
significance of the timing.
The sim-weave implant could record raw data but
playback required processing time. Processing that could
only take place via Zendori servers or the Zendori
application loaded onto a powerful workstation.
Drake reached into the pocket of his trousers and fished
out his PA. He thumbed it out of standby and saw it was
on, with an active phone tag connection. The processed
sim-stim recording had been downloaded from an external
source; but why had he not been prompted to accept it?
Unless you were out of it and accepted it without
knowing, he pondered; or you made the recording.
Sinking down into a sitting position on the step, he
manipulated the icon and launched playback; immediately
his awareness of the hear-and-now was swept aside and
replaced by total sensory immersion within another reality;
a reality recorded in this house.
Oh God, no…
A point-of-view walk from the area of the sofa to the
staircase; past where he would have been sitting now in his
own reality, transfixed like a zombie, up the stairs to the
playroom where Lorna was naked and grinning, easing
herself into the first cuffs of the sex harness.
Drake watched gloved hands come up and help her get
strapped in, hooked up, cinched and slung into position.
Were they his hands? It was difficult to tell. There were
no mirrors. No reflective surfaces to give him a glimpse of
who was making the recording. Lorna murmured sluttish
encouragements to the recorder, but the recorder did not
respond verbally.
He caught a glimpse of muscular forearms and the
sleeves of a crisp white shirt rolled up to the elbows. It
could have been him.
It could have been, but some part of his brain was
picking out flaws in the deception.
It was meant to look like him.
Then the violence began.
There was no sex with Lorna. Just an immediate and
brutal attack that brought out chilling screams of agony,
rage, and then animal terror as she thrashed about
helplessly in the harness.
Drake didn’t want to watch what happened next.
Hurriedly he manipulated the synaptic commands for
the implant and brought himself out of playback. Sweat
beaded his forehead. Wild-eyed he pushed himself off the
staircase and moved over to the sofa. Whoever had made
the recording had done so whilst he’d been blacked out.
Drugged?
But the realisation dawned on him that whoever had
done this could still be in the house with him.
Drake dashed into the kitchen and found a knife to use to
defend himself. He considered searching the house but
decided he didn’t want to instigate any encounter that
might lead to violence.
Trembling, he lifted blood-stained fingers to his ear-clip
and pressed the stud to activate a dial-command; a voiceprompt
whispered to him; he sub-vocalised a name through
his throat implant.
He rang Jack Warner.
His friend and business partner picked up the
connecting call after only a moment; greeted and asked how
Drake was getting along in his clipped but casual manner.
“I’m in deep shit, Jack,” Drake struggled to get out the
first words, a bottleneck of emotions, questions and ideas
almost rendering his mouth useless. “The woman. Oh my
God, Jack. The woman…”
The words just tumbled out after that, in between sobs
of despair and loathing.
Finally, Jack managed to break through the torrent. A
firm, authoritative voice. Jack wanted him to take it easy,
told him to get a grip and calm down. He asked questions:
who else had Ulrich called? Who else had Ulrich told about
the rendezvous with the prostitute?
“Nobody, just you Jack. Just you.” Drake could hear a
tremor in his voice that wouldn’t go away.
“Okay. Now listen, Ulrich. I arranged a place for you
near the airport. Remember that? I want you to go there
and get cleaned up. Call me once you’re there and you’re
calm. Okay? Got that?”
Drake nodded even though Jack couldn’t see him; a
heavy frown was creasing the features of his face. The tone
of Jack’s voice unsettled him, was making him wary; he
couldn’t put his finger on it, just a deep base instinct
kicking in.
“Got it Jack, I’ll call you.”
He closed the connection and his mind started to turnover,
scattering thoughts in different directions. Ideas
forming…
There was something not right.
Drake pulled out the compact PA from his pocket,
thumb-swiped the hardscreen to bring it to life, tapped a
couple of icons and bought up the address by the airport.
An apartment; more like a tiny villa. Part of a corporate
hospitality compound. Electronic security gates, a short
private drive.
“What the hell is this?” he mutter-whispered, the frown
deepening.
He tried dialling Jack Warner again.
The call went straight through to voice-mail; an
interactive, synthetic version of Jack’s personality talking,
giving options. Another one of Jack’s techno tricks; the
kind of thing run by AI-emulation software; he always liked
to tinker with things.
Drake jutted out his jaw and dialled again.
Same response.
Who the heck are you talking to Jack?
Paranoia began to expand into his anxiety riddled state.
The police?
“Fuck…”
He wasn’t certain he could trust Jack.
A vague idea began to form and then snapped into
sharp focus.
Drake knew a woman called Samia. His mind stitched
together an image of her from half-recalled scenes of parties
and hushed conversations in dark places. That weird
mental fog obscured some details, but he knew he trusted
her and that she had criminal connections. She was some
kind of conduit to illegal services.
He found her name in the phone book of his PA. Dialled
it without hesitation. She answered almost immediately.
“Ulrich Drake this is a surprise.”
“Hello Samia.” His voice had regained a semblance of
normality. “I need your help.”
Samia probed the situation with indirect questions; she
sounded cagey but he couldn’t discern if it was a result of
natural caution about un-encrypted conversations, or if
there had been some bad blood between them – some
incident obscured by the fog lingering over this area of his
memory. Either way he’d committed to this line of action.
“I need somebody to come here and clear up a mess,” he
wrapped it up for her, inwardly gritting his teeth at the way
he sounded so helpless and desperate; “Physical stuff but
with digital skills. Somebody who can clear the audit trail
of where I’ve been, of where I am. Is there somebody you
know who can do that? Do both? I don’t want more than
one person involved in this. And maybe trace the origin of a
particular data file that’s been sent to me here. I don’t
know, maybe that’s a nice to have. The important thing is
getting me out of here clean. I’m in serious bloody trouble
Samia. I really need your help.”
Help didn’t come cheap. Twenty-thousand credits was the
minimum fee requested by the asset she’d found to match
Drake’s location. The digital work was likely to cost extra,
depending on risk and complexity.
Samia confirmed the procedure: hold tight and wait,
don’t speak to anybody until the asset arrives, don’t touch
anything.
Drake sat on the bottom step and silently rode out the
hellish interval, trying to ignore the idea of the mutilated
corpse dangling in the room above him. He mulled over
what had happened and what he would do next. Why
would somebody want to make it appear he’d committed the
murder? Why send him the file and then go quiet?
Psychological torture to soften him up before the inevitable
ransom demand? Was this even blackmail? Maybe the
killer or killers had no intention of asking for money?
Maybe it was a favour they wanted from him? Or just to see
him locked away in jail for the rest of his life?
His thoughts twisted round, slid over each other and
knotted together like this for what seemed like an eternity.
Eventually he heard feet crunching on gravel and a
confident knock on the door.
The asset sent by Samia was male, stocky and heavyset,
functionally short black hair flecked with grey; a neatly
trimmed beard going a frosty white around the chin.
Dressed in a plain dark knee-length jacket he carried a
generic hiking satchel casually over one shoulder. The face
was friendly but in a superficial way; olive complexion; deep
lines around the eyes and across the brow that suggested
laugher or concentration.
There was no shaking of hands. No idle banter. The
asset noted Drake’s bloodied clothing and hands without
comment, then stepped inside and began to survey the
scene.
“Where’s the body? Upstairs?” The asset queried, his
eyes following the staircase.
Drake moved in front of him. “Yes but look, before you
go up there…”
The asset regarded him coldly, unimpressed by his
proximity; “Is there more than one?”
“No.” Drake responded almost plaintively.
“Problem?”
Drake rolled his lips together then bared his teeth in a
tense smile. “Before we deal with the physical stuff…”
He explained about the sim-stim recording that had
been deposited after he found the woman dead: the data
would have been processed externally; could the asset trace
the file to its source? More importantly for Drake, he
wanted to make sure the block of muscle had the skills
required to complete all aspects of the job; not just clear up
blood and badly sliced guts. Distantly, some part of his
mind registered a dull shock at the callous clarity of these
thoughts.
The asset shrugged indifferently. Dumped the satchel
and extracted a workstation and some dark green moulded
modules of non-descript hardware with mustard yellow
markings; military.
It took a while. There was a surreal sense of waiting in
the lounge of a chic tech-clinic, if you ignored the blood
stains. Drake retook his position on the bottom step and
quietly squirmed as the nameless asset sat in an armchair
and frowned into the electronic glow of the workstation; he
was surprised the man was using a hardscreen, would have
expected him to be plugged into some interface, meshing
with the data within a virt. But he didn’t interrupt to ask
questions. Just watched as subtle ripples in the asset’s
otherwise fixed expression of intense focus revealed
moments of discovery; it was clear a story was unfolding.
Finally the asset closed down the workstation and began
to pack all of the hardware away; the man’s features were
set with grim determination.
Drake couldn’t contain the questions any longer. “What
did you find? Where did the stim recording come from?
Have you been able to wipe away the digital prints of me
even coming here?”
The asset paused and looked at him for a long moment,
before resuming packing; he answered: “I didn’t need to.
This whole location is clean.”
“Clean? What do you mean, clean?”
“There’s another drill-head at work here. Your phonetag’s
active but leaving no trace. All the security here is
disabled. This whole place is a killing zone.”
Drake felt the features of his face fold together as he
tried to make sense of what he was hearing. The asset
continued, neutral, business-like.
“The recording in your skull came back to you from
Zendori corp. But that’s because you made it.”
A chill breeze seemed to settle on the back of Drake’s
neck. He shuddered as the sensation sank through his
flesh, freezing him to the core, making him suddenly feel
very light, intangible, as if he wasn’t really there.
“I made it…”
The asset shook his head with mild disdain. Zipped up
the satchel and placed it carefully on the floor. “Samia said
you sounded fucked up.”
“Explain,” Drake snapped, aggression edging the word.
“Right now Zendori Corp is going through panic and
lockdown. They’re shifting files. Changing passwords and
isolating whole chunks of core system. Somebody there
must have figured you’d blown a fuse.”
“The implant… it went wrong? I did this?”
The asset shook his head to indicate the negative; “I’d
say the implant worked a treat, considering what you
recorded. You really don’t know what you’ve done, do you?
What you are?”
“No… no I don’t know what you’re talking about. Please
what do you know?” Abruptly Drake felt utterly alone and
vulnerable in a big grown up world with hard-faced men he
didn’t understand.
“Fucking weird,” the asset chuckled. “Maaan, the blakk
bunkers are dripping with stuff you’ve recorded. I had no
idea Zendori was behind so many of them.” The asset
sounded strangely delighted by this knowledge.
“Them?” The question was weak, feeble-voiced.
“Sure, black-jacks, death-rims, anyone who wants to
find them can get hold of them somewhere on the Internet.
But your work…” The asset puffed out his lips and made
an explosive gesture with both hands. “You blow the game
apart. It must be the sim-weave, the way the algorithms
convert the nerve-impulses or whatever because there’s
almost a sense of the emotion you’re feeling when you’re
slicing those poor women up.”
The last sentence came like an accusation, hostility and
judgement only barely held back by the business
proposition now forming in the man’s smirk and glistening
eyes.
Drake tried to swallow but he couldn’t; his back teeth
where clenched down tight. He glared at the man in mute
rage. It was an anger fuelled by the vague, ghostly
memories now rising up and seething beyond the mental
fog.
The asset clapped his hands together, his smile
stretching across his face. “Zendori are going to have to pay
me a small personal fortune to keep me quiet.”
Then the back of the man’s head erupted in a spray of
brains, splintered skull and gore; a dark hole punctured
through his forehead. The gunshot must have come before
the wound but in Drake’s confused mind the events got
mixed up.
Startled, nearly paralysed in shock, he snapped his eyes
to the source of the sound even as the asset’s body
crumpled to the floor like a puppet with its strings cut.
Jack Warner stood in the shadows of open plan kitchen
area, adjoining the hallway and lounge. The gun held
calmly in his hand wasn’t particularly large; just black and
featureless.
Not dissimilar to the expression on Warner’s face.
A moment of silence formed and Drake stared at him,
open mouthed.
“I’m sorry, Ulrich,” Warner stated in a clipped and
acutely strained tone. “I don’t think it worked entirely as
planned.”
“What didn’t work?”
Warner lowered the gun to his side. Gazed back at
Drake like a man who was trying to make out the nature of
a ship far out at sea. He sighed. “You’re our best asset.
The way you do… what you do, makes you
incredibly…valuable. But you were having issues. Guilt.
Feelings of persecution from invisible… from ghosts.
Flashbacks. You asked if I could fix it, so you wouldn’t
remember.”
Drake mouthed the words and it was if they came from
somebody else. “So I wouldn’t remember killing these
women?”
“Yes. It’s what you do. And people pay a lot of money to
watch.”
“I felt something sting me…” his words trailed off when
he saw Warner shake his head.
“It was the implant kicking in. Locking part of you out
of the experience. Shutting out your higher-self, I suppose,”
Warner explained. He glanced at the gun in his hand and
back at Drake. “We should get going. I’ll have people come
to clear up the mess.”
“Samia knows.”
“It doesn’t matter.” He did something with the gun and
then stuffed it into a pocket. “She can be silenced with
money and influence. I’ve cancelled your flight. I’d like to
bring you back into surgery, Ulrich. Make it right.”
“I’m not sure I want to,” Drake replied, anger frothing up
inside of his mouth. Whatever he was – a killer – he didn’t
like the idea of being used by this rodent-faced man.
Warner frowned, concerned, and began to walk towards
him holding his hands out in an open, placating gesture. “I
can fix it, Ulrich. I can make it work.”
Drake heard a sound; like a – snick, which could have
come from across the other side of the room or right beside
him.
Just before everything went black he smiled thinly at
the conscious thought, that when he woke up he’d find
another sim-recording waiting for him.

The End

Artist of the day 3/2/12: Dark Writing 3: Edgar Allan Poe (Part three)

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As I suspectedd at the start of this segmant ‘Dark Writing’ will run more then just a week. I knew Edgar Allan Poe would take up two or three posts, I don’t have to do this thired post but I always like to add some of the artist work. Now I know most people are formiluer with his work, Poe is requiered reading in most High schools. But as I have said before I love Poe’s work. Tomorrow I will post on someone new, but today enjoy one of my favorite short stories by Poe.

The Tell-Tale Heart

Copyright 2000, by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia.

TRUE! nervous, very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why WILL you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses, not destroyed, not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How then am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily, how calmly, I can tell you the whole story.
It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain, but, once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this! One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture — a pale blue eye with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me my blood ran cold, and so by degrees, very gradually, I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye for ever.
Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded — with what caution — with what foresight, with what dissimulation, I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night about midnight I turned the latch of his door and opened it oh, so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern all closed, closed so that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head.

Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly, very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man’s sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! would a madman have been so wise as this? And then when my head was well in the room I undid the lantern cautiously — oh, so cautiously — cautiously (for the hinges creaked), I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights, every night just at midnight, but I found the eye always closed, and so it was impossible to do the work, for it was not the old man who vexed me but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he had passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.
Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch’s minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers, of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that there I was opening the door little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea, and perhaps he heard me, for he moved on the bed suddenly as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back — but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness (for the shutters were close fastened through fear of robbers), and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.

I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up in the bed, crying out, “Who’s there?”
I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed, listening; just as I have done night after night hearkening to the death watches in the wall.
Presently, I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief — oh, no! It was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when over- charged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself, “It is nothing but the wind in the chimney, it is only a mouse crossing the floor,” or, “It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp.” Yes he has been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions; but he had found all in vain. ALL IN VAIN, because Death in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel, although he neither saw nor heard, to feel the presence of my head within the room.

When I had waited a long time very patiently without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little — a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it — you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily — until at length a single dim ray like the thread of the spider shot out from the crevice and fell upon the vulture eye.
It was open, wide, wide open, and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness — all a dull blue with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones, but I could see nothing else of the old man’s face or person, for I had directed the ray as if by instinct precisely upon the damned spot.
And now have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the senses? now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well too. It was the beating of the old man’s heart. It increased my fury as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.
But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eye. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder, every instant. The old man’s terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment! — do you mark me well? I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me — the sound would be heard by a neighbour! The old man’s hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once — once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But for many minutes the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence.
I took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly so cunningly, that no human eye — not even his — could have detected anything wrong. There was nothing to wash out — no stain of any kind — no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that.
When I had made an end of these labours, it was four o’clock — still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart, — for what had I now to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by a neighbour during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.
I smiled, — for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade them search — search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.
The officers were satisfied. My MANNER had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears; but still they sat, and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definitiveness — until, at length, I found that the noise was NOT within my ears.
No doubt I now grew VERY pale; but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased — and what could I do? It was A LOW, DULL, QUICK SOUND — MUCH SUCH A SOUND AS A WATCH MAKES WHEN ENVELOPED IN COTTON. I gasped for breath, and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly, more vehemently but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why WOULD they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men, but the noise steadily increased. O God! what COULD I do? I foamed — I raved — I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder — louder — louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God! — no, no? They heard! — they suspected! — they KNEW! — they were making a mockery of my horror! — this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! — and now — again — hark! louder! louder! louder! LOUDER! —
“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed! — tear up the planks! — here, here! — it is the beating of his hideous heart!” END.

Writing : Helpful sites

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After being told my imagery is week I did a little searching for helpful sites. Whether you write poetry, short stories, children’s books, or novels these sites can help you improve that writing. Also a site I was given that can help you improve your spelling.

 It is no secrete I can’t spell my way out of a paper bag, lol. As someone who missed a lot of school, the reasons I feel I can’t share, I missed out on the education I should have had. Now I am 24 almost 25 and still struggling with spelling. Don’t get me wrong I have improved a lot! It was hard to get to this point, but the journey continues. I have found I am not the only writer with this problem, so it is nothing to be ashamed of. I simply have to continue bettering my self, for my benefit and for my children as well.

 Later today I will post the rewrite for my prologue (Unsure whether or not I will be using it), for the rewrite I utilized these site. And so I feel I am obligated to share them with you. If I can help even one person then I will be satisfied.

 So here you go :

http://www.merriam-webster.com/

http://www.onelook.com/reverse-dictionary.shtml

http://www.spelling.hemscott.net/

And one site to help you better your web sits : Nine Website Creation Mistakes

http://outstandingsetup.com/report