Monday February 27th, 2012

The exercise:

Let us begin the week with: shutdown.

Ah, what a relief - March is finally in sight!


I pulled up in front of the general store but paused as I reached to turn off the engine. A hollow feeling settled in the pit of my stomach while the words on the note taped to the store window beat their way into my brain.

Were now permanently closed. Thank you to all of our loyal customers for your years of support.

"Were," I said with a shake of my head. "Old Luke never was too good at grammar."

Of course that wasn't really the problem. But it was easier to focus on. Easier to correct than the locked doors, darkened interior, and empty shelves.

Easier to confront than the death knell that grew louder every day, signaling the end of my town.


Greg said...

Not so fast there! It's a leap year, February's one day longer this year :)
I don't think I've ever lived anywhere small enough to be in danger of just closing up and drifting away, but I still get a little frisson of dread when I read your story. Nicely put!
[oh, and on a grammar side-note, I read this somewhere this morning: "Grammar is the difference between knowing your shit and knowing you're shit."]

"And... that's the last of them." Margaret tapped the Enter key on her keyboard, and the computer beeped as the screen turned off.
"One hundred and forty-three?" Anneject was still ticking them off her paper copy.
"Yes. One hundred and forty-three convenience stores in a forty-five mile area, all shut down."
"And we did the gas stations yesterday?"
"Yes." Margaret's voice was clipped, but not impatient. "Eight hundred and fourteen gas stations all shut down."
"Buses and trains?"
"Drivers' strike."
Margaret sighed a little there. It seemed like a very strange thing for a water utility company to be doing, but: "Eighteen thousand, seven hundred and sixty six bicycle wheels stolen, broken or burned."
"Perfect," said Anneject, making her last tick. "Let's see my husband buy cigarettes now with everything shut down!"

Krystin Scott said...

In the muddy waters of the marsh sat the decaying old boat,
While Captain Kharon stood ashore accessing its ability to float.
Rolling two coins in his rough and rugged now oar-less hands,
He searched his resourceful mind for any possible alternate plans.
But the wicked sinners knew the ferryman had little choice,
Smiling they played on the waterfront and sought to rejoice.
The River Styx is shut down, the old seaman said at last,
If I were you schmucks I’d get the hell out of here fast.

Cathryn Leigh said...

@Marc - Oh.. small towns turn ghost towns, all shivery and the like. :}

@Greg - your comment about grammer totally ecliped your post, what was it about - oh yes the lengths one woman is going to to get her husband to stop smoking O.o

@Kyrstin - Ha ha nice. I like how what the cpatin says rhymes. :}


The rabbel is a rousing
Amoung the many towns
The fires are a burning
Inside Vervellean hearts
But is the General winning
Or is the shutdown about to start

Yes I have my trilogy on the mind, I jsut posted the last chapter *sniffles* but I get to go back to the begining to revise, edit and polish in the hopes of publishing. :}

writebite said...

been a tad under the weather, better now.
marc, poor town!
greg, heh heh
krystin, all poetic and then !! luv it!
CL, more please.

Shutdown (dwp)

“Shutdown, turn off, until the morning liiigght...”
Glen Shorrock’s distinctive voice rang out from the iPod’s ear buds, accompanied by that sweet 80s sound of Little River Band backing him.
The flight was about to land, it was time to turn off the ’pod and wrap up the wires. I stuffed them into the rear pocket of my backpack, alongside the phone and car keys. Doing a mini mental check, I was satisfied I had everything handy for a quick getaway from the airport. Having carry-on only would hasten the flow.
I was tired. I wanted to get home. It’d been a hell of a day at the business meeting and all I wanted was a smooth red and bubbles in the spa bath.
The landing was delayed, of course, no surprise here in the busiest airport in the country.
No matter, I could be patient. ’Time to practise my quantum entrainment’ I thought, sitting there in the ’plane. Breathe out, breathe in, think of nothing...
Withing minutes, it seemed, we were landing and not long after I’d paid the parking and swung my sedan out of the short-term parking lot and onto the freeway.
Congestion! Well, it was peak hour. ’I really should’ve caught that later flight,’ I thought, a tad bothered. No matter, more QE and my mindset adjusted itself to the new situation.
Looks as though the traffic lights on the off-ramp had shut down. No wonder there was a back up in the flow.
A little later than I’d hoped, I pulled the car into the driveway of my two-storey Victorian terrace. I’d had the renovators carve it our of the tiny front garden, it was the only way to garner an OFP as the realtors love to call it. “Good for resale value,” they assured me. It meant the remaining garden was now miniscule, of course, but enough for a few fragrant herbs which delighted my senses on this summer’s night. I wondered why the auto-sprinkler wasn’t on, it should’ve been by now, hmm...
Inside, the cat meowed for her dinner. Gourmet for this one, she knows what she likes. “There you go, Ms Cat,” I said as I scraped out the contents into her bowl, “sorry I’m late;” it was always prudent to apologise to your cat, they never forget.

I grabbed my well-earned red and headed for the bathroom. Turning on the tap over the spa yielded no issue. “What the...?” I muttered, stopping short of the expletive. 
I maniacally checked all the taps in the house. Nothing, not even the hot water worked.
I checked outside, looking for a leaky pipe, but there was none.
Puzzled, I sat for a moment, sipping my red. I made a mental list of tasks to tick off, something they paid me for at my job. Working through my mental diary, I went back a month and then saw red, and it was not the malbec in my hand. I scrambled to the study, rifled through some papers on the top “IN” tray and there it was, in red letters, “If you don’t pay your water rates by month’s end, your water will be shut down. Please note, this is an OVERDUE notice.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I exclaimed to the silent walls. I usually cover these bills straight away. Yeah, sure, last month had been busy and I’d been away on vacation for some of it... must’ve slipped my mind completely. One vacation and your  mind turns to mush.
I hopped online and paid it by Bpay immediately but I knew there would be a delay in service restoration until tomorrow.
Taking the red and the cat to bed, I curled up and drifted off, listening to the last stanzas of that song... “Make way, dream time, here comes another niigght; I wish I could remember where I’ve been...”

writebite said...

correction... typo...OFP should be OSP, *yawn* time for my nanna nap...

H.N. said...

Loved the comments on grammar today! I'm still picky about my own writing but have recently been trying to adopt the practice of, "If I know what you mean, I'm not going to correct you." Still drives me crazy but at least I seem less pretentious to other people. I still LOVE when someone asks my opinion on grammar or spelling. : )

The shot glass, considerably smeared across one side, made an odd, hollow sort of clink against the marbled bartop. Carol considered this, wondering briefly if it was the force of hand, angle of impact, or just a variation in hearing that made it different from the previous four. The thought passed as quickly as it had approached, her mind returning to it's current, ragged obsession of five hours ago. She heard the shrill, piercing voice of the site manager as clearly as if his diminutive, bird nosed form was standing right next to her, "Your project is shut down, Carol, do you hear what I'm saying? You and your staff have to vacate your lab and offices immediately!"

After that outburst, her indignation hit critical mass and she seemed to recall a tall stack of very important and carefully organized documents raining down around them and a screaming exchange of extremely vulgar phrases. Something glass and handmade in Europe may or may not have exploded dramatically against the stark, cement floor of the lab. After that, the memories blurred in and out as if in dream.

Somehow she had made it a block to "Harrigan's" and now there was only an empty glass begging to be refilled by urgent desperation to escape the bitter disappointment that was swallowing her. Parts of her mind were starting to feel the rum, which quickly neared her well recognized threshold. However, at least for the moment, the analytical part of her mind was still fully present. It was currently weighing all aspects of the situation and calculating the possibility that after four more drinks she would end up taking part in Karaoke Night, falling off the nearest table, and eventually ending up naked on top of a very inappropriate man, possibly shouting out names from the periodic table.

"Fuck it," she concluded, signalling the bartender with a motion of the empty glass.

Grondzilla said...

There were no hands
to man the switches,
Nor eyes
to scan the gauges
and the dials.
There were no feet,
to tread the corridors,
between the great,
humming machines.
There was no nose
to smell the acrid smoke
or ears to hear the
Grinding squeal.
No tongue,
dry with fear
or mind
o'er thrown
with awe
as the whole

Marc said...

Greg - I quite like that definition of grammar :D

That's an impressive effort to put an end to her husband's smoking. Though I suspect he'll still manage to find a way to get them :)

Krystin - love the two ending lines :)

Cathryn - congrats on posting the final chapter! And best of luck with the work that still remains :)

Writebite - good to see you again!

Liked the way you worked in and around the song. Nice one.

H.N. - what a fun character you've created there. The bit about shouting out elements was brilliant :D

GZ - great pacing and atmosphere. That's a nicely constructed poem :)