SepSceneWriMo #30

Paula hung out after the final show had closed.

The nostalgia of the event had begun as soon as her coffee had arrived that morning, carried by the effervescent stage hand, Cal. “Here’s your latte, Paula. Seems sad, don’t you think, closing after such a long run?” Cal had been her daisy in the morning. That and caffeine, of course.

She sat in the highest seat, the furthest from the stage. She thought of the props that would get stored in some dark room on the lot: the wooden ship, palm trees and fake sea monsters. How ugly the props were to her. She doubted she could have overlooked their flimsy falseness had she paid for the view. The audience hadn’t seemed to mind, though, she thought.

“‘Scuse me, Ms. Paula, but there’s this little treasure chest. You want us to toss it in with the rest of the stuff?” One of the cleanup crew had seen her wandering the seats and had asked if she was OK. “Oh, I’m just winding down. Don’t worry about me.”

“Treasure chest? Oh, that thing. Right.” It had been the McGuffin during the entire play, impossible to ignore, but ignorable in its own right.

“We’ll just set it down here in front. You take it if you want it.”

“Thank. Thanks a lot.”

During the show’s climax, she would attempt to open it. “No treasure could ever buy my love,” she’d cry with as much passion as she could muster—two hours into scorching lights and fifteen costume changes. “But let’s just take a peek to see what he thinks I’m worth.” The audience would laugh every time.

Her dashing opposite would slam his hand down and close the chest. “Then take my love as bounty enough,” he’d exclaim before snatching the chest and swinging off the bridge of the fake ship.

“What the hell is actually in there?” she thought out loud.

The brooms were out, being pushed by a half-dozen college-age drama students, hellbent on rising through the ranks. The various stage backgrounds had been wheeled away. All that were left were the tied-off ropes and sandbags that counter-balanced the sun, the moon and stormy clouds, equipped with self-contained thunder created by warped sheets of aluminum.

Paula stepped cautiously down the carpeted stairs, found the iron-buckled chest, the size of a loaf of bread, and tried to pry it open. Someone had placed a luggage lock on the clasp. “What the hell?”

“Well, screw it.” She tucked it under her arm and headed backstage and out to the rear parking lot. On her way she grabbed the one outfit that she’d felt suited her best, a simple barmaid’s dress, but one with class, like that of a woman who took pride in her appearance despite her low station.

She turned the top down on her BMW and drove along the neon lit avenues. “Bright lights, big city,” she rest her hand on the chest. “A pocket full ‘o gold, a tall ship and a star…”

What looked like a Great Dane dashed across the road in front of her. She’d killed a deer when she was sixteen, driving her dad’s pickup, and had dreamt about it for years.

She yanked the wheel to the right and the car fishtailed. At her speed, nearly forty, when she ran up the curb and hit the fire hydrant, the momentum induced a yaw that flipped the car. It tumbled three times before ending up inverted, Paula dangling unconscious from the seatbelt.

The chest was flung like a trebuchet’d stone. It landed in the alley and rolled under a dumpster. That night it rained. The first of the summer deluges that would drown the city.

Sammy had become an expert dumpster-diver. He knew the spots that collected the best trash. Tech, books, lamps and stupid shit people collected all their lives, only to have thrown into the garbage when they died. He also knew that when folks tossed shit into the bins, they rarely aimed.

“Day-yam, will you look a that. That’s like, one o’ them pirate booty things, a treasure chest.” He rolled away the dumpster, spot-checked the alley and smoothly tucked the chest beneath his jacket.

With a pair of pliers he twisted away the luggage lock. He lifted the lid and inside, rolled up and tied with a blue ribbon, was a list. It read:

Thanks for coming along for thirty days of September Scene Writing Month: (in no particular order)

  • George F.
  • Hetty Eliot
  • Phil Huston
  • Dracul Van Helsing
  • DoodleDiddy (Mike)
  • MyDangBlog (Suzanne)
  • Duke Miller
  • Blogging_with_Bojana
  • DesertCurmudgeon
  • Tom Being Tom
  • JT Twissel
  • Audrey Driscoll
  • Sam “Goldie” Kirk
  • The Pink Agendist
  • SummerHillLane
  • Miss Understood
  • Olivia Ava
  • Stine Writing

And thanks to all who read and liked. It’s been a challenge. See you next year.

SepSceneWriMo #29

Clods of frozen earth littered Vasily’s fields, he expected the weather would break them apart by spring. All the sugar beets had been yanked from the ground and piled into two grey-wood sheds. The Ural winds would continue to dry them, concentrating the sugars.

“Zima won’t marry you without land.” Vasily stood above the mouth of the grinder, dropping in head-sized sugar beets. The machine groaned with the effort.

Luka grabbed a handful of shredded beet. He squeezed the liquid into his hand and tasted it. “Mmm. Will be a good batch, this time.”

“I can sell you a small plot for your share of what we make.” He dropped in another five-kilo root. “You won’t get a deal like that from anyone else.”

“I don’t need land. I’m happy living as a worker.”

“Zima needs a proper home.”

“Zima loves me. We only need each other.” Luka swapped in another fermenting tank. “With the money we’ve saved, we’re going to Georgia, on the sea.”

“Until you run out of money.”

“She knows English and Arabic. We’ll live off of her teaching.”

Vasily pointed at the prior vat. “Water and yeast.”

“Besides, I know how to make vodka. I’ll find work at a distillery.” Luka poured in a cup-full of mother they’d nurtured for years. He capped the metal container and sloshed it about. It made a sound like a commode. He filled it to the top with water and added the bubbler.

“So, goodbye to the motherland?”

“We’ll come back to visit.”

Vasily’s youngest daughter rapped at the door of the barn. “Papa, men in dark hats and black boots are pounding at the door.” She shrieked and they heard her run to the beet shacks.

“Vasily Yakanov? Open up. It’s cold out here and we must talk.”

Vasily lifted his chin at the door and Luka unlocked the inside latch. Two men strutted in and stationed themselves protecting the exit. “A new batch, yes? Better than the last one?” The first man, squat, made rounder by the heavy woolen coat, let his question hang from his lips.

Luka went to the cupboard over the tool bench and returned with an unmarked bottle and a pair of short glasses. He filled each with two fingers and handed them out.

“Yes, let’s hope it’s better than this batch.” Dark and round downed his glass. “What is your estimate for this run? And don’t play shy.”

“Forty…”

“What?”

“Fifty cases. If we’re lucky. And the wild hogs stay away.”

“Ready, when?”

After the two men left, Vasily grumbled and fed the machine more beets. He overloaded it and had to unclog it with a crowbar. Freed, it started back up. “How can anyone get ahead?” he said. He hefted a cleaver and halved a beet the size of a pumpkin. He cautiously dropped in each half.

Luka rinsed the glasses thoroughly. He spit in them and rinsed again. He poured them both fresh vodka. “Zima will marry me, and we will leave this place.”

“Perhaps she will. Perhaps she will. Nostrovia.”

SepSceneWriMo #28

You weren’t looking where you were going. You had your nose pressed into a new, engrossing app on your phone, like a child at a Macy’s Christmas display window. Scrolling, tapping, swiping, following the instructions being whispered into your Bluetooth ear-buds.

When you step off into the woods, the darkness doesn’t register, nor the silence.

The images on the screen come faster, tints of gory crimson, royal blue and black, always black. Your finger flicks in a blur. The voice begins to screech. The ground turns to gravel, then leaves, dry like the crepe-paper skin of an old woman. Then soft loam cushions your footfalls. Vines trail across your shoulders, uncurling tendrils reach for your ears and lips. Still you wander, enraptured. Until…

You’re physically halted. You push forward, the voice compels you to struggle on, its piercing commands, so loud that they burst your eardrums. Trickles of blood loosen the buds’ grip and they fall to the dirt and are swallowed by squirming larvae seething at your feet.

You look up and find you’ve stumbled into the web of some vast malignant weaver. Cloying silk binds your eyes open, your mouth open, your hands, still gripping your phone, try to clutch at your face to tear away the threads. Your arms reach only half way, they too are bound and are now being draw to your sides. Your cherry red phone falls face up to the earth and pulsates there, whether from loved ones trying to reach you, or from fetid creatures tasting the plastic case, you no longer care.

For the children of the monster that has encased you in her undying tomb, her woven cocoon of preservation, now dangle by the millions. They dance at the end of invisible threads, all anxious to encrypt your juice-filled corpulence so that they might dine for days, years.

Round and round they spin, entwining your once rosy glow now faded to an ashen hue. You watch their tiny black bodies scuttle across your vision, never patching your sight. They leave two slits to serve as witness. For what, you wonder?

For her, you realize.

She descends with a jerking motion within your mummified view. She’s covered by bristles that glimmer as if vinyl.  Through your silken mask you smell her, corpse flower nectar. She twirls at the end of her own sticky rope until her black dead eyes, arranged like fist-sized marbles, come to regard you, her host.

You fear the fangs that she clacks together, hard as ivory, but she rotates further and from the end of her bulbous abdomen you see her ovipositor, a syringe the size of a dagger, lift and strike toward your belly. The pain explodes in your chest and spreads, napalm oozing through your veins… Which subsides until you sense a new motion within your gut. You feel your self being pumped full. Full of eggs.

As your consciousness pinches to a distant shrinking point of light you hear your phone ring, and ring, and ring.

SepSceneWriMo #27

Ravena sinks her teeth into the thigh of her adversary and tears the flesh from his body. She swallows the chunk in one gulp and dives in for more. “It’s been weeks since I dined so well,” she says, licking her swollen lips, her canines like stalactites in the cave of her gaping maw.

Chook lifts his blade high and swings it down onto the neck of the beast that growls, drooling acid onto Chook’s calfskin boots. The creature’s head tumbles down the stone steps, bouncing at the end to join the growing pile. “So far ’tis been just a drop. My blade thirsts for more.”

Above them both, on the landing that opens up within the ruined manor, Oosric wraps his fist in the filthy hair of the slave-girl, spreads his shrouds wide and forces the girl’s face onto his revealed…

“That’s bullshit, Ronnie. You can’t have a slave blow your character in the middle of a battle.”

“Why the hell not? The sight of blood arouses him.”

“Him or you?”

“Shut up, Bessie. Your female werewolf sure sounds like she’s enjoying her lunch. Maybe it’s you who has suppressed feelings of, I don’t know, cannibalism?”

“Gross, Ronnie. Take it back!”

Dungeon Master, Jerick, steepled his fingers, his mischievous grin grown wider with the row. He glanced to see how Chuck was reacting to the tiff. The other boy, whose character Chook, rarely deviated from a vanilla script, stared vacant-eyed across the basement, captured by some shadow behind the water-heater.

Jerick snapped his fingers at Chuck’s nose. “What’s with you tonight? ‘Your blade thirsts for more’, that’s all your blade ever does. Can’t you come up with something new?”

Bessie and Ronnie stopped arguing to listen to Chuck’s reply.

“Like what?” Chuck said, blinking.

“Hell, I don’t know. Punch the next one with your pommel. Or dodge ’em and kick ’em in the ass.” Jerick grabbed the twenty-sided die, shook it in his hand. “And Ron, can you quit trying to fuck every female NPC you find during the campaign?”

“Why? Oosric is a sexually repressed cleric. That’s who he is.”

“That’s who you are, you mean,” Bessie said. She and Jerick had been friends ever since she’d crippled a German Shepard that had cornered Jerick near their school bus stop. She’d been wearing her favorite riding boots, walked up behind the dog and kicked it in the ribs. It cried a pathetic howl and ran from sight.

“We’re all like that,” Ronnie told them. “Well, boys are. Girls, I read, don’t sexually mature until their twenties.”

Chuck came out of his daze. “Penthouse says that some have to wait until they’re forty.”

“Shit. Forty?” Ronnie said, shaking his head. “Sorry, Bess. We’ll all be old by the time…”

Jerick let the die drop and spin. “Will the three of you shut up and play?”

The die rolled to 6. “Six,” Jerick continued. “The battle resumes with six more denizens swarming in from the surrounding forest. They scramble up the stairs where… [tetrahedron roll to 3] Oosric has to combat the first one. And Oosric?”

“I know, I know, just kill ’em, don’t fuck ’em.”

“Well,” Bessie said, smiling, “unless your dick shoots silver bullets.”

SepSceneWriMo #26

He asked me if I had any bandages in my pack. I said, “Sure do, if you count a couple ratty t-shirts.” He pulled open his coat to reveal a map of Russia, dark red and spreading. I said, “If you can still feel the pain, then maybe it’s not too late.” He nodded and tucked back up tight, pulled in his knees and asked me for something to drink. I told him, “I been saving this for when I get to Savannah. But I think I could spare a drop.” I tipped the bottle of homemade plum brandy into his mouth. “They call that slivovitz in the Balkans. I just call it dragon’s breath.” He coughed but smiled. That’s harsh, he said. I replied, “You should have tasted it six months ago when I distilled it. It’s illegal, you know, making spirits.” He said he hadn’t known that. He went on to tell me the temperature, cold. I corrected him, “It’s mid-August. If you think it’s cold that means you’re prolly dying.” He nodded. I mentioned, “I’ve got some beef jerky, store-bought, but it might take your mind off, you know, that.” I pointed toward his belly. He shrugged, but I tore him off a piece and he opened his mouth for it. While we chewed, I contemplated his predicament. We were stranded, at least fifty miles from anywhere, on a long route of BNSF’s line down from Yellowknife. I was headed back to the States, back to Georgia to bury my grandma. I knew I’d miss the funeral. But I needed to say goodbye. He’d been fighting with a company-man, took a broken bat, snapped to the shape of a Bowie, right in the gut. Left for dead. There wouldn’t be another train along for days. Riding a few cars up, I’d seen him fall, so I jumped from my car and watched the train vanish. A belly wound like that… “I’ll drag you someplace comfortable.” He groaned like a zombie while I moved him. “Wolves will prolly find you, but, here, you can have the bottle.” He received it and wrapped himself around it. “I get to Clifford-town, I’ll let someone know you’re up here.” He murmured his thanks. “Sorry I couldn’t help.” He shrugged again. I told him, “You should drink a bit at a time, until you feel numb. Then I suggest you finish it off.” He nodded one last time. I straightened and walked down the track. I didn’t look back. I imagine a bunch of folks have died with a belly full of slivovitz.