Tuesday October 25th, 2016

The exercise:

Yeah, all right - we've got a theme week going on. I was all ready to bail on the idea and then I saw that Greg had jumped in with both feet and I figured it was best to just go with it (though I have absolutely no idea where I'll be going with mine).

Anyway. Welcome to Halloween Week!

Let's see where things go with: the visitor.

Had a productive afternoon while Max was with Kat's parents and Miles was napping. Cleaned up and organized Max's room (long overdue), took in a carload of recycling to the depot, and picked up a few little toys to use for trades with Max for all the Halloween candy he'll get trick or treating that he can't eat.

Probably got a little carried away with that last one, but I was having fun, dang it.

Anyway. Time to figure out what's going on with my week's writing.


Ryan had heard through the family grapevine that a distant cousin held the deed on an unoccupied house and had moved quickly to take advantage of the situation. He was down on his luck, as per usual, and the idea of having a proper place to rest his head while he figured out his next move - or at least to perfect his next con - was irresistibly appealing.

He arrived under the cover of darkness, not wanting the neighbours (or anyone, really) to know that he had taken up residence. So, speaking to no locals, he had no chance to be warned away. Not that he would have listened to such nonsense anyway.

It had rained that day, a steady downpour that had turned the dirt in the empty flower beds to mud and the long grass in the yard was doubled over under the weight of the rainwater. By the time Ryan had let himself in the backdoor his sneakers were filthy and his pant legs soaked. Not wanting to create a mess he knew he'd never get around to cleaning, he kicked off his shoes and dropped his pants and socks in the doorway.

The kitchen tiles were cold against his bare feet - colder than he would have expected. He moved quickly through the downstairs, the large backpack slung over one shoulder carrying all of his worldly possessions. The staircase leading to the upper floor was blessedly carpeted but he did not pause to appreciate it. Instead he hurried upstairs in search of the largest bedroom and to scout the location of the nearest bathrooms.

By the time he had decided on his sleeping arrangements he was too tired from his journey to do anything else but crawl under the sheets (which smelled freshly laundered, despite the supposed neglect he had been told about by his brother's wife's stepsister's uncle) and fall fast asleep.

He remained that way until just before dawn, when he was woken by a scream.


Dragonfly Oracle said...

not quite Halloween-esque, but here's mine from a while ago...

The Visitor

He turned up one day on her doorstep, standing on the "welcome" mat as if it were a sign designed specifically welcome him into her life.
At first she wasn't sure, maybe a little put out, even. She wasn't sure if she wanted to socialise this much - he could be demanding of her time.
Then she relented, falling for his charms, He'd sidle up to her, breathing his warm breath on her cheek, nuzzling her neck, kissing her hand as if she were a princess.
In the mornings he was there, waiting for her to bring out the coffee. It meant they were sharing some special time together. She would speak about her feelings, her plans and goals. It made him feel like he was her confidant, as if he might offer her a pearl of wisdom, but all he needed to do was let her gaze into his own pearly-grey eyes and wisdom would automatically be dispensed.
When she didn't show, he would take a seat and wait, all day, if necessary, like a guard on sentry duty. He wasn't obsessed, just loyal, is all.
Sometimes he accepted her offer of food. She had good taste. She only offered the best gourmet to share with him. He accepted it, graciously. He particularly loved the way she grilled salmon, just off the raw; it melted in his mouth.

Most times he liked to sit quietly next to her. No words were needed, just the trust of close companionship and its healing, soothing quality - these were enough. Sometimes he fell asleep, it got so comfortable by her side.
He taught her patience: to live in the now, enjoy the moment, using the gift of his time with her, for, one day, one of them would be gone from here. Neither one of them could change that.

Yes, when the neighbourhood's black cat visited, it was very special - special to be chosen and entrusted with shelter and cuddles and food, for as long as it would last.

Greg said...

Haha, I did wonder if you really meant it was a theme week or not since you'd said in an earlier comment you were looking for inspiration! Still, sometimes inspiration comes from having no choice, and I think you've picked up your original scene, kept the TZ narrator voice and added in an interesting character who's clearly over his head already! The little details are great again: the doubled-over long grass, the way the weather distracts him from the unusual readiness of the house for a visitor, and the character's avariciousness. The background is starting to fill in just a little too, and the cliffhanger is very neat! (And Hallowe'en appropriate).
Well done on the tidying and toy-buying too -- sounds like you're going to have more fun than Max this year!

[I think you might get double posts from me all week at this rate; hopefully you'll enjoy the story enough to forgive me!]

Greg said...

The visitor
Father Ignatz hung back as the two men rose from the table, but Ernest waved to him to join them. David hurried ahead, frowning and already listing the things he needed from his bag in order to deal with the candle-stub, and Ernest kept a slight distance between them.
"How did you know?" asked Father Ignatz. "I truly hadn't decided whether I should tell you about it or not."
"Later," said Ernest. "I know that what I'm about to say might upset you, Father, so I have to ask you to trust me, and David, that we know what we're doing. David is the expert in the Laws of Magic, and I know you study them yourself, but it seems to me that the Law of Contagion might apply here."
"The Law... oh. Oh!"
"I am sorry," said Ernest. "And I might be wrong."
"No," said Ignatz. His face looked suddenly old and Ernest fancied that for a moment he could see the weight of twenty-years worth of confessions burdening the man. "No, Sir, I fear you are absolutely correct. Your... perspicacity? No, your sagacity I think, never ceases to amaze me. Were you never considered for the Church?"
"Later," said Ernest again; they had arrived at their carriage.

David wasted no time, swiftly clearing a small space on the floor and finding a box of coloured chalk from his bag. He drew a careful octagon with practiced strokes whose sides alternated blue and green, and then pulled a box of counters, each of different metals and stone and set one at each corner.
"Ideally we would know what was summoned," he said, his voice didactic. "Then we could be more selective; the colours and the counters could be attuned already. As we don't we use a more general set-up." He paused, concentrating, and there was a stillness in the carriage. Ernest realised he was holding his breath. There was a sudden warmth as David raised power, and the chalk glittered. He opened the handkerchief and delicately laid the candle in the middle of the octagon. Almost instantly Father Ignatz began to glitter too. David's mouth fell open.
"The Law of Contagion," said Father Ignatz, sadness clearly open in his voice.
"Mercury's Wand!" David swore so infrequently that even Ernest looked startled.
"You must proceed," said Father Ignatz. "I will endure."
"You will die," said David. He reached back into his bag. "I'm closing a live summoning, you'll be pulled back into the same place as the horror that was summoned originally. Ernest, this was a trap!"
"This is a trap," said Ernest quietly. "It's not closed on us yet, David. Is there anything you can do?"
"I could use a Van de Graaf generator, six students and a Philosopher's Stone. For starters. But what I have is you, two lemons and a piece of zinc."
There was a tense silence while David carved runes into the skins of the lemons, and only Ernest noticed that his hands were shaking when he started. Pieces of zinc were slid carefully in between the runes, and Ernest was instructed to hold them, one in each hand and stand on the far side of the octagon.
"This is the tricky bit," said David, biting his lower lip white. "You must squeeze the lemons while I close the summoning so there is a stream of juice falling on the sides of the octagon continually until it closes. So you need to squeeze not too hard, not too gently--"
"Just right," said Father Ignatz with a hollow laugh.

Someone, a visitor, knocked at the door of the carriage.

Marc said...

Dragonfly Oracle - that's a sweet little piece of writing :)

And no need to adhere to the overarching theme for the week - as long as you're writing I'm happy!

Greg - thanks for the kind words on mine, as well as for the extra push I needed to actually carry through with the weeklong prompt :)

You're carrying us onward with your tale in unrelenting fashion. I must know what happens next! Who is the visitor? How horribly wrong are things about to go?!

Hah, sleep insists that answers must wait for another day...