Tuesday Tales

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Tuesday Tales: Picture Prompt

Published October 22, 2012 by administrator

Welcome to a creepy edition of Tuesday Tales! Today’s 300-word story comes from the picture you see above. Unassuming enough, right?  Think again, and enter if you dare…

***

From the front it appeared no different than any other house on the block – a well-kept two story monument standing as a proud testament to pre-1900’s architecture. Festive decorations adorned the front porch while spooky blow-up caricatures lined the steps like undead marching soldiers. Even a pumpkin graced the front lawn, hiding inside it a peeping Frankenstein. Orange and black lights blinked along the trim of the wide porch day and night without fail. Hidden in the front hedges was a motion sensor that exuded an eerie laugh each time someone passed by. Many people paused to gaze at the spectacle. Some took pictures, but nobody ever stopped. Just because it was six days after Halloween with no change in scenery didn’t mean the still-standing decorations were that unusual.

No, it just meant that the owners of the house were dead.

If the passersby were to look closely they would have noticed that the broken door jamb was real, and that the dark trail marring the bright-white boards of the steps was blood, and it led across the threshold. If they were to push open the ruined door they would notice other things out of place – a broken crystal goblet and an overturned bottle of scotch to start. The trail would continue through the house into the kitchen where a once-beautiful blonde woman lay, face up in a pool of blood that had long-since oozed from the angry gash across her throat. From there bloody footprints would lead upstairs where her husband lay sprawled on the landing, almost completely disemboweled. Intestines would be strung along the banister much like the lights out front. His eyes would still be open, staring sightlessly ahead.

But nobody would witness these gruesome sights. Nobody would stop. Nobody would care.

At least, not until Christmas.

***

Chilled to the bone? Good. For a palate cleanser check out the rest of this week’s Tuesday Tales.

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Tuesday Tales: Finger

Published September 25, 2012 by administrator

I have returned!

First of all, thank you so much to Jean and the Tuesday Tales Group for letting me come back. The last few months haven’t been the best, as is probably evidenced by the gross little number I’m offering up for you this morning. The latest addition to a work in progress titled “Easy as Pie”, this story focuses on a young lady named Callie who has had some less-than-pleasant experiences.

WARNING: This is true horror. If your squick-alert goes off easily, I suggest not reading this. Otherwise, consider yourself warned.

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Callie began to hum. No matter how bad the situation, cooking always helped. It was the very reason why she opened the bakery in the first place. This little shop – the one thing in this world that truly belonged to her – was her sanctuary.

Turning away from the stove, Callie picked up a bowl, this one filled with chocolate chips. She drizzled over the top a few drops of corn syrup, then pulled a measuring cup from the microwave and poured heavy cream into the bowl. Picking up her whisk, she scraped and stirred until the ganache was smooth and creamy. The aromas of chocolate and cooking meat battled for dominance, causing her nose to twitch. The juxtaposition of sweet and salty made her smile. The little voice inside giggled with manic glee.

She reached behind herself to stir the meat then returned to her chocolate. Callie took a cookie sheet from the cabinet and lined it with parchment. A small plate sat beside the sink, its meaty bits still steaming from their recent stay in a pot of boiling water. She upended the contents into the bowl of chocolate and stirred them well.

Had it coming…had it coming…

“Won’t do that again, will you Matt?” she said aloud. Her voice echoed around the empty kitchen, disturbing the quiet stillness. Callie paused… she was so happy here. This bakery and its industrial, all-steel kitchen truly was her refuge, her home away from home, her quiet in the storm.

But even this place couldn’t protect her. The door with the board over it in the storefront stood as a hard, harsh reminder of that fact. When he couldn’t get the door open, he’d broken it down. She loved Matt, she truly did, which is why she’d taken so much of his shit over the last four years. But lately as his drinking increased, so did his anger, and tonight…

He deserved it… the bastard had it coming.  You know he did…

Tonight was the final straw. He pushed the wrong buttons, and Callie? She made him pay.

Placing the bowl of chocolate to the side, Callie turned back to her pan and spooned the meat into the prepared, paper-lined bowl. Pouring the majority of the grease into a coffee tin, she returned the dregs to the flame and began to throw in other ingredients. Soon she had a beautifully colored, though slightly soupy, gravy. Callie patted the meat dry, enjoying the fine, slightly gamey smell of it, and tipped it back into the pan with the gravy.

Venison…tell them it’s venison when they ask. She stirred it together and turned it down to simmer.

“I should have soaked it in water,” she said aloud. “It would have smelled so much better afterward.” With that task accomplished, Callie picked up a pair of tongs and swirled her chocolate treats around the bowl. Then she lifted each one and placed it on the prepared pan. Giggling sickly, she pulled out a container of almond slivers and laid one on the end of each, then took up a pastry bag and drizzled white chocolate across them. Her candy-coated fingers were so pretty!

“I’d call them lady fingers, but that’s not entirely true,” she said as she looked down at her latest confectionery creation. The sight made her want to simultaneously laugh and vomit.

Precious treats!

She shoved the pan away. At least she had the forethought to boil the fingers first and remove the skin and bones. In her rage she’d even replaced the real bones with some of those cute candy ones she had left over from last Halloween.

Tuesday Tales: Crippled Playthings (Again)

Published June 18, 2012 by administrator

I’m baaaaack!

And as it’s Tuesday Tales time, I’m here with a new installment of Crippled Playthings.  It’s moving along nicely, too.

Here, Henry gets to share a few personal musings before things get ugly.  Only he doesn’t know how ugly it’s going to get.

Today’s Prompt:  CITY

Be sure to check out the rest of the Tuesday Tales while you’re out and about!

**********

From the air, New Orleans glowed.  A city of magic, mystery and intrigue, Henry couldn’t help himself as he leaned against the rail and marveled at the sparkling blanket of gas lights and coal lamps beneath him.  The dirigible’s turbines rotated around until the blades lay parallel to the deck, giving him a clearer view of the urban sprawl.  As the aircraft sank closer and closer to solid ground the sparkles turned to bright orbs and between them in the early morning house movement began.  Specks of scurrying energy turned to ants which in turn morphed into people, carriages, and the occasional horseless contraption.

Because of his condition, Henry never got to see the world.  Those in wheelchairs – however advanced their tinkered accessories may be – were rarely able to travel with ease.  This trip, however, promised to be the beginning of a new life.

Watching the waking New Orleans on the forty-minute descent to the landing pad, Henry told himself again and again that this was not wrong, that he was making no mistakes, that walking would be a dream come true.  A dream he never dared to dream until recently, but a dream nonetheless.  This place, so richly steeped in magic and tradition, offered a modicum of comfort, the smallest belief in the impossible.  His nerves didn’t work.  His muscles were worn and useless.  But if there was a single place in the world that could make this better, it would be the makeshift home of the voudou priestesses.

Anxiety filled him as the ship touched down and technicians moored the anchors to huge iron bolts on the ground.  The gangplank slid silently from its home beneath the deck and two-by-two passengers began to disembark.  Sitting alone on the opposite side of the deck was the young woman in the wheelchair.  She appeared as anxious as he felt, and as she wheeled herself forward her pressed the hidden levers on the steering bar attached to his own chair and took up a spot by her side.

“Beautiful city,” he commented, once again trying to draw her into conversation.  She still refused to look at him.  Henry sighed. He wanted to help her, but even with the change of scenery and the sense of excitement trickling into his bones, she seemed as unaffected as the moment she first boarded this great masterpiece of human ingenuity.  He supposed his tinkerer’s sensibilities were what made him so amiable.

One day he would remember that not all people were good.  Not that she wasn’t good – she just appeared to be part of the crowd that really needed saving.  He wondered briefly as the wheels of his motor-chair hit the smooth stones of the walkway if he might be the one to save her.  They were connected far deeper, he mused, than even he was aware.  That much he could feel.

Tuesday Tales – Night

Published March 26, 2012 by administrator

This week we’re continuing with “Crippled Playthings”, my steampunk horror story about people with an overwhelming desire to walk.  I warn everyone yet again that this is a horror story, and likely will not have the happiest of endings.  When we left off, Henry Gaston was just deciding that he wanted to take the stranger up on his offer.

More Tuesday Tales!

*****

Henry watched the dim haze of the hamlets slide past, each one acknowledged only by flickering streetlamps as the world slept below the dirigible.  The girl still refused to speak to him, but he could only assume she was on this journey for the same reason at him: to walk.

Funny, he thought, that with all of the modern conveniences and technological advancements – they were flying after all – that the surgeons could not find a way to repair spines and cure crippling diseases.

The only civilian left on deck, Henry marveled at the great airship’s propellers, studied the feel of the wind against his face – somewhat of a draft created despite the windscreens affront the ship.  Overhead the night sky was littered with stars.    The moon, little more than a pale sliver, hung low on the horizon.  The atmosphere would begin to change color soon – he could feel morning coming.

They were two days out of New York, and still another day from New Orleans – the destination he’d only learned upon boarding.  With each night that melted away into dawn, Henry’s anxiety grew.  He hadn’t a clue what was in store for him, but the closer he came to his destination, the more he felt he’d made a grave mistake.

Tuesday Tales: Crippled Playthings (Prompt: Sky)

Published March 19, 2012 by administrator

It’s time again for another round of Tuesday Tales.  This week’s prompt of “sky” gave me all sorts of ideas, but since we’re trying to stick with one theme and be productive on this end, I’ve opted to continue the newest work in progress, “Crippled Playthings.”

I warn you now – it’s horror.  This story is not pretty and will likely not have a very happy ending for everyone involved.  However, this week’s prompt did give me the opportunity to work in a bit of the Louisiana Steampunk feel.  I hope you enjoy it.

A word of warning to those that read last week’s post – I’ve changed this character’s name.  I wasn’t happy with the other one.

Also – check back with the Tuesday Tales Blog for the rest of this week’s fabulous stories!

*****

Go Here for Part 1

Assisted living is bullshit, Georgia thought as she stared out the window.  Two weeks now, day in and day out, nothing but the same monotony.  Wake up, received pitying looks from the staff, go to bed.  At least in the hospital all she had to do was lie there and pretend not to exist.  This new facility, according to her doctors, would help with the transition into her new life.  Not that it was much of a life.

Georgia stared up at the sky. Billowy, white clouds floated across the clear, blue pane, reminding her of early, more wistful days.  She remembered the carefree days of her childhood in the neighborhood, hitting the street at dawn and not coming home until the streetlights popped on.  She thought about the playground on the corner and running through the tall grass near the woods where all the kids were forbidden to go.

Running…

Something she would never do again.

The sky seemed to darken with her mood.  Thick, dark clouds roiled in from the west, boiling forward and pushing the happiness out of the atmosphere.  She was willing to bet if she began to cry, it would begin to rain.

Oh, who the hell am I kidding? She snorted and rolled her eyes.  Georgia knew she had no control over the weather.  That would be too surreal, and a bit too much like a comic book or video game for her tastes.  She did, however, have control over one thing…

Her life.

Under her fingers the ratty slip of paper crinkled.  She’d kept it bunched in her palm since leaving the hospital.  The nurses and orderlies had no clue it existed, and would likely take it from her were they to see it.

Georgia dropped her hand into her lap as the light outside the window dimmed and the first rattle of thunder shook the roof of the old building.  She unfolded it and looked at the nine hastily-written digits on it.  The number was not a local one – the 205 area code told her that much.  It was nothing close to New York’s 917.

She read the numbers to herself a dozen times, praying she could remember the sequence, then curled the paper into a tiny ball and shoved it down into her bra.  Then she turned the wheelchair around – the cumbersome beast – and pushed herself toward the pay phone on the wall just as the first crack of lightning split the sky behind her.

It rang twice, and a familiar, gravelly voice filled the receiver.

“Have you reconsidered my offer, Miss Corchoran?”

“I don’t know who you are,” Georgia said, holding the phone away from her ear – she didn’t want the lightning to hit the line and zap her, “but if you can do what you say, then yes.  I want to walk.”

The line buzzed in her ear for a long moment before a weak, rattling chuckle filled her head.  “Excellent.  Be at Union Station tomorrow morning at seven o’clock in the morning.  The dirigible captain will have your papers.”

Tuesday Tales: Crippled Playthings

Published March 12, 2012 by administrator

Here’s to a new venture – Tuesday Tales.  Having been invited by a close, personal acquaintance, it’s only right that I join in.  This week’s topic is “Legs”, which lends itself perfectly to my current work in progress, Crippled Playthings.  It’s a horrid, little story about the driving need to walk and it features a Louisiana Steampunk setting.

You think I’m kidding? I never kid about things like this.  Read on.

And after you’re finished, click on the picture to go back to the Tuesday Tales blog and check out the other talented authors there.

***

You want to walk again?  I can make you walk.

The words echoed in Trina’s head long after the mysterious man behind the curtain left the room.  His very presence was like something out of a twisted version of The Wizard of Oz, but the more the offer reverberated, the more desperately she wanted to believe it was true.  Six weeks ago a drunk in a logging truck had t-boned her little Kia, leaving her with a severed spine and no quality of life.  The prognosis she received once she woke from the anesthesia had been grim at best.

“I’m sorry, Miss Tipton…but you will never walk again.”

“But I can still feel my legs,” she argued as she struggled against the straps crisscrossing her chest, “I can move them, see?”

“No, you only think you can feel them.  Phantom sensation is common, and will lessen over time.  Though your brain tells those nerves to move your muscles, the nerves no longer reach your legs.  Your spine was severed between your lower thoracic vertebrae – L2 and L3 to be exact.” To emphasize his statement the doctor turned to the side and pressed his knuckles into the small of his back.  Like that would fix her.  “The damage is complete.  I’m sorry, Miss Tipton.”

For the following five weeks and four days, Trina lay in bed, feeling sorry for herself.  Nurses hooked her legs up to machines that worked the muscles to attempt to stem the atrophy, but she scarcely noticed.  She refused her medicine, requiring her doctor to order it intravenously.  She refused food – after all, what was the point of eating and keeping her strength if her life was over?

Now this… the one thing she prayed for – for this nightmare to suddenly be over – had been offered.  I can make you walk.

It had to be too good to be true.

***

The ability is yours…you have but to accept my terms.

“But what are his terms?”  Henry Gaston turned his wheelchair toward the bathtub and looked at it with utmost disgust.  The sink, like the rest of his home, had been altered specifically to cater to him.  A childhood victim of polio, he hadn’t walked since he was three.  Until last night, though, the fifty-two years he’d spent in a wheelchair hadn’t bothered him in the slightest.  Walking was never part of his life, so was not something he ever learned to miss.  But to experience it for the first time?

The offer was almost too good to be true.

Pushing it to the back of his mind, Henry reached for the cog-laden chain over his head and pulled, listening to the smoothly-running clicks and jingles of the mechanism that would descend and ultimately lift him into his bath. The water would be icy but he wasn’t about to complain.  After all, a Louisiana July night didn’t cool down until long after the sun set, and even then it didn’t cool down much below abject misery.  If a cold bath was the only way to keep himself sane and wipe the crazy idea presented the previous night out of his head, then so be it.

***

Bertram Granville lowered the goggles over his eyes and turned the dial the brought his welding flame to a roil.  The rod and cog on his worktable turned red-hot as he applied heat, and in seconds the two items fused to one another.    To that cog he attached two long, flat rods, and to those he screwed a set of leather straps.  A slow smile spread across his face as he inspected the contraption, stretching and twisting it from one side to the other.  A crude creation if he said so himself, but it was a start.

Once someone accepted his offer, he would have plenty of time to perfect the design.  As he pushed the goggles up to his forehead and wiped his greasy hands on his dirty pants, Bertram wondered if he would ever find someone desperate enough to accept an experiment without question.  Yes, he could make them walk in theory… but perhaps his idea of walking and theirs might be two different things.