Sunday March 25th, 2012

The exercise:

Movie Week reaches its penultimate day with: From Dusk Till Dawn.

Third and final greenhouse bench completed this afternoon. I shall have to get some pictures to share with you. Not that they're super pretty or anything like that, but they were a lot of work and they'll do the job we need them to do.


Outside the light is fading, an expectant hush descends on the city. Night creatures come to life, call to each other in familiar tones from rooftops and trees, slink along alleyways.

Inside four men sit with their thoughts, some more comfortably than others. The blond can hardly hold still, his fingers twitching as though they held an invisible saxophone. The redhead and brunette are as active as statues, barely breathing. The man with raven hair, more a boy really, is nearly hyperventilating.

A detective appears at the door, tells them they'll be kept overnight, leaves. So. They are my captive audience until sunrise. Time to get to work.

I move from man to man, alternating between whispers and shouts, calm, pleading, and hysterical. Ghost lips against living ears, so close that I feel infected by their stench. But I keep at it, repeating the same words over and over and over again.

"My name is Angie McKay. If you killed me and do not confess, I will haunt you for the rest of your days."


Greg said...

Pictures of the greenhouses would definitely be good! I rather like seeing your little farm grow and grow.
Sounds like you might get your extra win in the playoffs this year by the way the Canucks are doing so far, too ;-)
The first paragraph is lovely scene-setting, and after that there's some excellent detail, like the invisible saxophone, and the abruptness of the details the narrator doesn't feel are important. I'm undecided on 'active as statues', probably because living statues are fairly common in fantasy and sci-fi so it took me a moment to appreciate what you were saying :)
But good work nonetheless!

From dust till dawn
Cool sheets, a dark room, a soft pillow.
I used to sleep so easily; I'd go to bed exhausted from looking after so many people (how can a husband and a child feel like eight people?) and I'd snuggle up, cuddle in, be held and fall asleep in no time. It was easy.

Cool sheets, a dark room, a wet pillow.
We can't hold each other. It might only be for the moment, I don't know. I haven't asked how he feels. I probably should, but what if he starts crying? Then I'd start too, and who would be being strong. Though I should have run out of tears by now, surely. We lie here, next to each other but alone, arms rigidly by our sides, sleepless eyes staring at the ceiling, our breath synchronising as our only intimate contact.

Cool sheets, a dark room, two Nyquil.
From dusk till dawn. They should put that on the package. That's how long they make me sleep, and it feels like it's never enough.

Anonymous said...

marc, i have been enjoying the development of your story,

From Dusk til Dawn

Lucy tossed in her sleep. There was no rest for her. From dusk til dawn she was in turmoil as she absorbed what befell her. Not only  had Shirley not left her anything in the will, her own bad business decisions of late had left her penniless. 
That was not the only thing disturbing her dreams.
A deeper, inner tension broiled. She felt guilty for having neglected her mother for so long. She knew, now, that she should have been more attentive in the later years, even out of duty if not out of love.
It was too late, now. She couldn’t turn back the clock.

From a dimension just an arm’s length away from Lucy’s own, her deceased mother looked on.
From dawn til dusk and dusk til dawn she gazed at Lucy, until her own heart softened at the plight her daughter was in. 
’If only you could hear me!’ Shirley willed her words across the ethers. ’I would tell you it’s okay, now. Just rebuild your world, look forwards, not backwards.’

Shirley nudged her old pal, Shanti the medium, to go see Lucy, but Shanti declined. ’Only if she calls me first, will I help,’ Shanti said to the spectre of Shirley standing in front of her. ’Only then.’

Cathryn Leigh said...

Ha ha! Thanks for the complement yesterday Marc. Were you foreshadowing today’s prompt? No dusk or dawn in space, but it is artificially created on the space stations, and it does exist planet side. Like Christmas week where I didn’t want to do Christmas, I enjoy the challenge. How else can I improve myself? :}

Rachael’s Childhood
Chapter 8: From Dusk Till Dawn

“What you doing?” Rachael followed her father down the stairs.

He looked back at his daughter and smiled. She was still in her PJs, Pookah caught up under an arm. “You’re up early missy,” he ruffled her hair.

“Had to pee,” she shrugged, watching as he tapped a code into the door at the bottom of the stairs. “What’s in there?”

“Would you like to see?” He cast a glance back as the airlock opened a jar.

“Can I?” Rachael’s eyes went wide. Just about everywhere on the lower deck had been forbidden to her brother and her.

Her father grinned an opened the door to reveal racks and racks of plants. “Ladies first,” her motioned her in.

Rachael stepped inside, eyes wide as she took it all in. “Why’s it dark?”

“So the plants can sleep. It will lighten up soon.” Her father moved passed her, humming to himself. “Now, let’s see, there ought to be some ripe tomatoes and strawberries...”

Rachel took off, not waiting to hear the rest of his list. She hunted through the rows until she found the strawberries. The fist red one she saw went straight into her mouth. As did the second and the third and the ...

Her father chuckled, “Did you save any for us? Your mother wanted to make Strawberry parfait tonight.”

Rachael sucked in her lips before letting them out. “Ops.” Her cheeks flushed.

Her dad tussled her hair. “There are four other hydroponics bays to harvest, but you can only help me if you promise not to eat any more of the produce.”

“Pomise.” Rachael grinned as she trotted back up the stairs after him, fingers crossed behind her back.

Krystin Scott said...

Chloe radioed in to central command, “Reached the backup generators, under attack, three men down. Send an assault team with a medic. Do you read?”

Chloe tried to send the message multiple times and received no response. The snow had begun to fall harder and was blocking the transmission, deflecting the signal away, out of reach of the bio dome. She handed the radio to Private Orion, “Keep trying.” she said.

With help from Lieutenant Storm she moved the fallen men closer to the still burning generators. It was dangerous but they needed warmth or they would soon suffer from hypothermia as well as their injuries.

The yeti circled the area. Lieutenant Queste noticed the fire was acting as a natural deterrent and was most likely the only thing that kept the yeti at bay. They would have to keep the generator burning to have any hope of staying alive until morning.

“Colonel how many flares do you have?”

“Flares? We’re carrying the standard gear, two per pack. But we can’t reach central command; no one is out here looking for us. What are you thinking soldier?”

The few times the yeti dared come close, Chloe’s team laid down a barrage of gun fire. The yeti howled in frustration, but easily hid itself among the snow banks surrounding the generators.

Once the fire died down they used the flares to blow the second generator. It was risky but they couldn’t think of any other available options so they had all agreed to the plan. Each secretly hoping the yeti would soon abandon his attempts at reaching them.

Dawn brought with it solar heat, the snow had ceased to fall and Private Orion tried the radio again, “Roger that, Private Orion the voice of Major Darke, boomed over the waves. A strike team will reach you by 0800, hunker down and report the details of the attackers, let me know what you need son.”

Anonymous said...

Just couldn't make it here yesterday, not without being up way past my bedtime on a work night. Tried to combine both days as best I could. With only one day remaining, I hope I can tie this up successfully:

Practically convulsing with sobbing, she was vaguely aware of people staring as they walked by but self consciousness was nowhere to be found. The woman was beside her in a moment, one arm pressing Sam against her shoulder, not saying a word. She wasn't sure how long she kept up like that but, when she slowed to a few shuddering breaths, the woman patted her hand, muttered something about water and returned with a bottle and a blue slushie.

"Here, honey, drink this." she urged the bottle toward her and Sam drank deeply from it.

"These are my favorite," she said casually, taking a long draw of blue off the straw, "I'd almost call them my downfall. I'd do just about anything to get one. I'm Tracy, by the way."

"Sam." she replied, coming back to herself but completely exhausted.

"Sam. My brother's name is Sam," Tracy smiled at the thought then shifted her soft, understanding gaze to Sam, waiting for her to begin, her thumb softly rubbing the top of Sam's hand.

The tears rose again, but, in a rush, she managed, "My mother died a few weeks ago and when I heard you talking about your just sounded so different than...I don't know sound like you have so much peace about it...but life is such a wreck!"

Tracy's arm was around her again, gently rocking her now, "It's okay, it's good to cry, I cried so much before and after he died. And I didn't sleep at all the last couple days, I was so scared, felt like I cried from dusk till dawn. I'm guessing you didn't do much of that, right?" She pulled back and stared right at Sam, endless blue into deep brown, brimming together.

Sam shook her head, "Not even once. My mother was sick for a very long time. I didn't know what to feel about that, not being herself, dying... I still don't. And I've been so awful to her for so long, rarely visited, she was just a burden to me and now...I'll never see her again...never be able to tell her I'm sorry." The finality of it stabbed into her sharply.

"Well," Tracy said with a knowing tone, "Let me tell you a few things that have always helped me."

Aaron said...

It is crazy how much the prompts guide the flow of these stories and yet how different all our stories with the same prompts are. I really dig it and all your stories. Here is what came forth.

From Dusk till Dawn

The nights are long here. From the moment the light leaves to return centuries later, I drift uncomprehending time or space. Dusk and dawn have become mili-seconds and the night and day forever. My new life has been taken away. Right as I had begun to enjoy the fullness of my wishes, everything changed. At first I thought I was returning to the controls of everything, I hoped for wishes without limits. Then White Robes arrived. One day, he materialized out of the soft whiteness that surrounded me. His message simple, his task to destroy my faith,
“Jonah, admit that you need help. Jonah where are you? Jonah what do you look like? Jonah there is no such thing as wishes. Jonah you must admit there is no such thing as wishes.”
He leaves before mili-dusk and returns after mili-dawn. During the black night I wait for the Black Robes. His last words echo endlessly, “Your wishes will come true only if you believe in them. Keep the faith. Know that you have changed your life for the better. Expect it. You will be tested. Keep the faith and your wishes will come true.”
Dawn is coming, and the White Robes with it, for now I believe in dreams. I believe. But what if White Robes is right? Am I crazy?

Marc said...

Greg - love the progression and contrast between the three paragraphs. Very nicely done.

Writebite - thanks!

That's an intriguing development. I like that she's not a vengeful ghost and that she still cares for her daughter, it feels more authentic that way.

Cathryn - well I'm glad you're seeing it as a challenge and not a nuisance :)

I would eat all the strawberries too :D

Krystin - ooh, it looks like they might just make it after all!

H.N. - good to see you back on track, and that's a great way to handle the two prompts in one go :)

Aaron - yeah, I'm quite pleased with the diversity of the stories being told (that had been my hope from the start, but you just never know how things will go).

Fascinating stuff. Really enjoyed the battle back in forth between his thoughts, and the introduction of a second mysterious robed figure was a neat touch.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is this is your fault. Who they are and why they are doing what they are doing remains a mystery to me (other than this current business which seems a bit more obvious). Anyway...this is what was on the brain-radio this AM.

*** *** ***

The sun had dipped below the horizon some time ago and now, with the light finally fading away completely, Joe glanced at the glowing green arms on his watch and then looked down from the ridge into the valley below.

It should start almost any time although he wasn't privy to the specifics. That was how it had to work. They agreed to do the favour and he just stayed the hell out of their way. Naturally he was curious about how they would proceed but knowing the way the Beta team worked there was very little likelyhood he could make an accurate guess.

Would they cut the power somewhere? Would they just use a ruse and some kind of subtle timing? Would they call on Istvan's peculiar talents or would they just make the whole damned thing up on the fly? That was actually his best guess. Stanislav would, of course, try to talk the others into some kind of massive overkill while Martin would make sure that everyone was actually pulling in the same direction.

Joe pulled the night vision binoculars up to his eyes and scanned the perimeter fence for any signs of activity. Although he was explicitly forbidden from getting involved there has never been any suggestion that he could not try to keep an eye on things. His sweep revealed nothing and he let the binoculars drop to rest on his chest.

He was just about to turn and walk back to his car when something like half the lights in the city winked out. After a few heartbeats they stayed out and the emergency lights in the facility failed to kick in. It looked like Stanislav must have won out to some extent. Joe smiled in the now inky darkness.

It was time for him to pack up his things and head for the designated meeting at Dawn.

Marc said...

GZ - my fault?

*innocent puppy dog eyes*

Surely not :P

But yes, I think that does tie everyone together a bit more clearly. I am still very much intrigued.