Thursday January 7th, 2016

The exercise:

It's been long enough since last time, I think, so let us revisit the Random CD Prompt. Go find a song as randomly as you like and then borrow its first line. Use it as your opening and then take things from there.

Managed to get caught up to 2016 on the comments this morning. Being only a week behind feels, sadly enough, like an accomplishment at this point.


High Hopes by Kodaline

Broken bottles in the hotel lobby should have been enough of a warning for me to turn right back around as soon as I walked through the entrance. Sent me running back to my car, really. Hit the gas and don't let up until the next town came into view.

But I didn't have a car. There wasn't even a bag over my shoulder. So I stepped, barefoot, around the shards of glass and approached the unmanned front desk. My hand was halfway to the counter before I realized there wasn't a bell waiting for me there.

"Hello?" I called out, my voice hoarse from the recent onset of dehydration.

"You need a room?" The speaker was hidden in an office to my left. Other than her voice the only indication of her presence was the soft glow of a computer monitor in an otherwise darkened room.

"Uh... yeah?"

"Here you go." I saw a pale hand appear for less than a heartbeat before I needed to focus on the key flying in my direction. I caught it by its red plastic tag. I don't know how, but I did. "Second floor, almost all the way to the end of the hall. Take the stairs - the elevator stopped working two weeks ago."

"Thanks," I said, feeling a little stunned. "Uh, don't I need to sign in or something?"

"Why?" She stuck her head around the corner to look me up and down. I placed her in her early twenties, but I'm terrible with that sort of thing. Curly black hair framed a pale face with an expression that combined boredom with irritation. "You a crook or something?"

"No, nothing like that," I assured her. "I just... I dunno. Isn't that fairly standard?"

"We don't worry about that sort of thing here," she said, returning to her computer. "Just pay when you're ready to leave. Trust me, you don't want to pull a runner."

"No, I wouldn't... why?" Something about the way she'd offered that warning concerned me.

"Anybody who tries that? We sick the dogs on 'em."

"The what now?"

"And those mean little bastards always find their man." She leaned just enough to the side for me to see one cold, blue eye. "You sleep tight now, all right?"


Greg said...

Well done with the comments!
Heh, you've taken real inspiration from that song this morning, and that's an interesting opening you've crafted (add this to that ever-growing list of things to continue please!), with the protagonist clearly having secrets she's keeping, but so does the owner of the hotel. Though dogs... are they chihuahuas, by any chance? The little details there are excellent, maintaining the depth of the scene without overwhelming it. Lovely work!

Moth's wings by Passion Pit

Dear friend, as you know, your flowers are withering, your mother's gone insane and your leaves have drifted away. I set the letter down and picked my coffee up, and made myself drink from it several times before switching the two again. Much as I liked Lenore she had a way of winding me up no matter what she did. I no longer accepted phone calls from her, I'd directed all her emails into a spam account that auto-deleted everything it received, I'd blocked text messages and deleted messenger apps to stay away from her, and finally I'd left the country. And somehow she'd found out my address and written to me.
Yes, my flowers were withering, I'd sown the garden with salt before I left just in case Lenore came round. Yes, my mother was insane, but that wasn't news, that was just a sad fact of life. And yes, my leaves had drifted away, but that was because I'd fled the bloody country to get away from Lenore!
But the clouds aren't clearing up and I've come reveling, burning incandescently, like a bastard on the burning sea. I sighed. Bloody Lenore. She'd found a way to track me down and had sent a letter to tell me she was on her way. "I've come reveling" could only mean that she'd been back to the coven and got them to help her cast a spell. My fingers twitched, but one more spell is one spell too many. Like any recovering addict, I had to remember that the only way to stay clean was never, ever to start again. I couldn't just veil the house from her sight, I couldn't just disrupt any travel spells in a five mile radius and let her fall into the ocean. I had to do it just as though I wasn't a witch myself. Like a normal person.
When had I ever wanted to be normal?
Well, I might not be doing magic myself, but I still knew how it worked, and what Lenore would be doing. With a heavy heart and an aching back I went out to the garage and dragged the huge, rusty bear-trap out and into the house. Lenore would have to land in the middle of the living room – it was the only room in the house large enough to be locatable by magic –, and so... she would have to land in the bear-trap.
I hauled a haunch of venison from the freezer and got a tub of pig's blood from the fridge. I'd been planning on making sausages, andouille to be precise, but never mind. I poured the blood over the meat, and set it in the trap, and opened the doors and windows. Then I retreated to the bear-proof shelter in the back garden and waited. Hopefully the bear would get there before Lenore, but you never knew.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, a day late. The internet cut out on me last night and I spent the entire day tending to a sick dog.

Something's Got a Hold on Me: Christina Aguilera

Sometimes I get a good feeling
And then, like a flash, it’s gone.
Sometimes I get a light of hope,
Then the darkness overcomes.

But this life of mine is mine.
And I find I have a choice to see
Grey storm clouds everywhere
Or to believe that there is some
Sunlight that’s always behind them.

Marc said...

Greg - thank you for the kind comments on mine.

Hah, your poor, intriguing narrator. I am curious about his giving up magic, like an addiction no less. And Lenore seems... dedicated :)

Ivy - aw, I hope your dog is feeling better now. I know how rough that can be.

Great opening stanza, it really sets the scene. And, again, I enjoyed the optimism displayed in your second stanza. Nice work, though perhaps it could have used another stanza or two to really flesh things out.

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

Not exactly a first line---it's the first line of the refrain, so that should count?---but it's been capturing my attention lately.

Hey, I'm not properly back until I take a very generous interpretation of the prompt, right?
("All Quiet", Driftless Pony Club)

they were going to make it safe, Melanie reminded herself. she had Finch's help, and he was going to help her make the viper's exhibition as safe as possible. and she knew that, it was reasonable and rational and logically she knew that.

and yet she still wondered. she still worried. any dealing with Their viperous prince was to be undertaken with extreme caution, of course, but she still worried about her hands. the plastic tangle Finch had given her helped keep her from scratching at her hands, it still assured her that her hands were still there, but that worry still lingered.

then there was that other worry, the one that had made deciding to agree to this exhibition so tricky to begin with, whether or not she could let herself say yes. she had said yes, but those doubts still crept in---did saying yes to Them once give them leverage to make her say yes again? would that start to undermine everything she believed to be true? could this---this yes, this exhibit, this uncertain reaction to whatever she showed---somehow keep her here forever?

we've got so many ropes and ties made out of things that aren't our lives, after all.

Marc said...

g2 - indeed :) So I shall take this opportunity to properly welcome you back!

Intriguing piece. Some great details bring it to life and leave me wanting to know more. Nice work :)