Thursday April 5th, 2012

The exercise:

It's been a while and I'm struggling for inspiration, so I'm busting out: the random CD prompt.

Find a song at random, use its first line as your own, or at least as part of your opening line (credit where yadda yadda yadda), and then go wherever your creative little minds take you.

Normally I tend to flick around until I find an opening line that inspires me, but this time I'm being firm with myself. I went to a Vancouver radio station's online site and decided to use either the current song or the one that came on next.

I felt like a challenge. I'd say I got one, as I definitely would have kept looking if I'd allowed myself the choice.


When she sleeps there is a fever dream that takes hold, embracing her body with burning claws, nuzzling her neck with earthy breaths. She struggles, tossing and turning until the bed sheets entwine her arms and legs, allowing no escape.

Images flash by, one after another, an unending parade of impossible creatures in foreign landscapes. A bear-like creature stands and roars before a statue of an unknown king. Two white wolves, black wings on their shoulders, snarl through bloodied fangs on a plain that belongs to the moon. Ravens, seemingly on fire, perch on gravestones, their engravings in a language unrecognizable.

She calls out but there is no one coming to her rescue.

In her dreams a man in a grey robe stands in a forest facing away from her, chanting softly and rocking forward and back. She knows she should flee but her body will not respond to her commands. Instead she moves closer, feet stepping silently upon the mossy ground. An urge to hear his words drives her onward until she is within arm's reach.

Unbidden her arm rises, stretches toward his shoulder. The chanting stops as her fingers brush the rough fabric of his robe. She is aware of a deep silence, as though the woods is holding its breath. Slowly, like a reluctant second hand, he turns to face her.

She wakes, screaming, to find her alarm clock welcoming her to another rainy interlude between fever dreams.


Greg said...

I love the imagery in this piece, I think you've stepped up well to the challenge. And it's definitely good to be pulled out of your normal writing zone from time to time. I think you've pulled together some standard dream elements and woven them together in that slightly weird way that happens with fever dreams, nicely done.

The first song that came on the radio as I reached this point was this one:
Next to me – Emeli Sande
You won't find him drinking at the tables any more. Since the birth of his son he's been stone cold sober. Even those little red veins on his nose and in the corners of his eyes have started to recede, but his skin's terrible. Grey, looks stretched. Almost as though he's died and no-one told him.
He doesn't tell jokes any more either. I remember wetting myself with laughter in the pub, and having to go and clean up in the smelly little toilets, and he'd be sat there, drink in front of him, angelic look on his face and the dirtiest words you'd ever heard on his lips. Now? Now you're lucky if you can get two whole sentences out of him. It's like he's lost all his words.
You won't find him drinking at the tables any more, and, if we're being truthful here, we're all pretty glad about that.

Anonymous said...

for this allow me to repeat my Shutdown prompt...

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 OSP 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...”

Watermark said...

I just picked a random song from a random online radio station. Must admit I've never heard this one but here goes...

Dr Dre - I need a doctor

I'm about to lose my mind. The drip drop sound from the leaking tap down the corridor echoed like the dull slam of a drum. A constant expectation that my senses now waited for in dread. Sure enough, two seconds later the reverberation eases its way through my skull. Painstaking.

I've lost track of time, save for the count of the endless drops of water, acting like a clock in an infinite void. I don't know how long I've been lying here in the dark.

I try to roll over to will myself away, in a far away place, deep in the crevices of my mind. But I cannot move. My drugged body has disassociated itself from me. I can't feel my limbs so I lie still and wait. I take a deep breath and imagine a safe place. I find an early memory of myself laughing, at ease, not a care in the world. But the images fade almost instantly and disintegrate with the sound of a renewed drop of water, continuing to alert me. Bringing me back to the here and now and my sad state of affairs.

They wanted me to speak and tell them about the serum. Well I'm ready now, to tell them all. Just make that sound stop. Just bring the life back to my body and let me be again.

And I hear a creaking door open. I squint at the neon and the other outside sounds invading my subdued cell. A figure looms in the doorway. I struggle against a parched throat, "I'm ready to tell you. Please, I need a doctor."

Cathryn Leigh said...

To get my song I typed in ‘Radom Song’ and found the following site: The April 5th song was; “I Couldn’t Leave You if I Tried” by Rodney Crowell I really wanted to do Sweet Child of Mine, by Guns N Roses, but that was today’s song and it felt like cheating. :}

Random Song Prompt

The sun is coming up and I'm just going down the road back home. These evening shifts are killing me. I’ll home in time to get the family up before collapsing back in bed. Then I’m gone again before dinner. Barely time to play with the kids. Barely time to spend with my husband. It’s driving us apart.

All I want to know is when will it end? When will I get the seniority to get a normal day shift. How long has it been since we had a family dinner, weeks, months, years? I don’t know any more. I just want it to stop. I just want my old life back; not that I can remember what it was.

My husband stands on the porch, waiting for me. I can’t read his expression. I’m too tired. I park and get out. Look up at him with tired eyes. He hands me a cup of coffee and motions me to sit on the porch swing. I remember it’s Saturday, when normally I come home and crash to try and eek a little more time out with the family. Now I’m more awake. Knots form in my stomach as he sits down beside me in silence. He is troubled.

“Anna, before you say a word I want you to hear me out.” He glances at me and I nod, the knots get worse. “I got news that can change our life, for the better if we let it.” He turns to me, takes the coffee and sets it down so he can take my hands. There are tears in his eyes. “Things come in three, you know, last time they were three bad things, your father, your job and then mine, well it seems a bit reversed now. In a way.” He takes a deep breath then lets it out. “I got a call, early yesterday. My Aunt Millie died and she left us her house in Minnesota. Well I looked it up and that house is real near my companies other office, you know the one they wanted to send me to last year?” I nodded. “Well I check and they are still willing to transfer me and pay for the moving. Then I looked up the value of houses around our and I figure we can sell this puppy for enough money to let you quite work for a while. Maybe let you go back to school so you can get a better job...” His voice trailed off as he looked at me.

I could only blink at him and wonder where this good fortune had come from. Not that I ever wished his Aunt Millie dead. She was a wonderful old lady but, her generosity was astounding. And transferring to the new office meant a promotion for my husband. The thought of going back to school and finally finishing my degree was but icing on the cake. If only I could bring myself to uproot the kids form their New Jersey home.

“When do we need to decide?” I whispered as tears rolled down my cheeks.


How do you make hyperlinks in this interface?

Anonymous said...

I feel I took the easy way out with mine but wasn't ready to write what felt certain to be a rather serious conversation. This is the first song I heard streaming from KROQ in LA, our new favorite station at work.

Love what everyone else has written! Cathryn, your line continuation was fantastic!

"Undisclosed Desires" by Muse

"I know you've suffered..." Aleta's current favorite song ended abruptly as she shut off the car and stepped out into the parking lot of Starbucks. The wet clumps of snow had lightened considerably during her commute. She trod carefully but, despite her best evasive maneuvers, slush slopped defiantly over the top of her shoe. She glowered at the universe in general, her neighbor's cheerful voice filling her head, "I can't remember the last time it was like this!"

"Goddamn winter," she muttered darkly. She had not abandoned a lease, a job, a new set of friends and driven through 5 states and 3 severe blizzards to find the oppression of cold and snow smirking at her on the other side. Financially, she was at a standstill and could only hope spring would break through soon.

Thankfully, the line was short. A short, curvy blonde wearing a thick red sweater in front of her seemed familiar and she flashed Aleta a quick smile. Had they both been here yesterday morning? Routine was an unavoidable but awkward piece of furniture resting in the ease of her otherwise un-rehearsed life. She embraced it reluctantly, like a distant relative whose hugs last too long.

After successfully completing the remaining three parts of this particular set(purchase Grande Americano with room, fill room with half and half, splash top eighth down jacket attempting to walk and exit at the same time), she drove to work. She no longer washed the jacket but always left it in the car before resuming the never ending sort of returned merchandise flowing through the backroom at Kohl's. Walking in, the lack of windows was, for once, relieving and Aleta dismissed the bleak landscape easily.

Krystin Scott said...

World So Cold By Mudvayne

When passions lost
And all the trust is gone

The children pay the cost
Becoming more withdrawn

Retreating from reality
In an attempt to ignore
All the acts of brutality
They can’t escape anymore

The despondent grow weak
As they lock their hopes away
Our outlook turns bleak
And we watch the world decay

But you simply must believe my dear
Faith is what you need to show
Then the hidden pathways clear
And all at once you’ll know

That all is not as it might seem
So pray in earnest for a new dawn
Because the one who reigns supreme
Promised to help you carry on

Listen for the angel’s voice
Ring out above the fray
Let us all rejoice because
Christ has shown the way

Happy Easter

To all those of other faiths,
Have a great weekend.

Marc said...

Greg - thank you, glad you enjoyed it :)

Wonderful characterization there. Get a pretty good picture of both 'him' and the narrator.

Writebite - I don't mind reading that again :)

Watermark - and I must admit I had a proper giggle when I saw which song you used :)

You did a fantastic job with it though. And I like the way you tied it back to the song title at the end there.

Cathryn - that looks like it could be a highly useful website, thanks for the link!

Excellent scene you managed to craft from that opening line. You really brought the characters to life.

I must admit to not knowing the answer to your question - hopefully Greg can chime in, as he seems to know the trick.

H.N. - you definitely had me sympathizing with your character. Sounds like a rough stretch she's going through.

Krystin - wonderful poem, with a comforting end. Happy Easter to you too :)

Greg said...

Adding a link's not hard, though figuring out how to get this comment form to show you might be! The link making string is:

<a href="link goes in here"> description of link goes here </a>

So, to link to google you might type:

<a href=""> Google search </a>

The easiest option is probably to cut and paste and replace the bits of text :)