April 17, 2015 – NaPoWriMo days 15, 16, & 17

“We said no one made pancakes as well as father. We said father was the best at getting the ice cubes from out their trays. We said the sky was purple when it was meant to be blue and the basement stairs were now rope ladders and there was something walking back and forth in the attic. No matter how we pleaded with father, he would not respond. We went through the kitchen cabinets, pulling drawers out and looking behind. We crawled around beneath the dining room table.”

***

“Mother said she heard father whispering in her ear. She said the house had a room picked especially for them. We could knock on the door but there was no guarantee that we would be allowed in. Mother said the hammer was ours now. She said we should fill the basement with grease, then concrete. She said we should break the walls down, then cleave open the lake until the water spilled out, leaving the well form empty. Mother said we should prepare dinner together once a year at least. The older we became, the more spread apart we would be.”

***

“We went to the room beneath the stairs, pushed the table out of the way, and forced the door open. We used the tools mother told us to collect. We used a screwdriver and crowbar. We pried the door from its frame and when it snapped open, we gathered in the entrance to stare. The room was empty. It was a small room, a broom closet size, with barely enough space for a single person to step inside and turn around. There were no lights in the room. We stepped inside and touched the four walls. We knocked on the tightly packed shelves for any signs of hollowness.”

April 14, 2015 – NaPoWriMo days 13 & 14

“Mother had her hammer. She switched it from hand to hand. She swung the hammer and broke a hole through the plaster. Mother cleaved the wall apart. The plaster chipped and shattered, revealing a large black space. When the space was as tall as mother and as wide, mother put her hammer down. She stood before the hole for a long, long time, then gestured for us to come near.”

***

“The mother outside the hall turned the hammer in her hand, then directed the metal head at her other hand’s thumb. She shattered the nail. Her finger turned black immediately. The bruise spread from fingertip to bottom knuckle. The black was tinged with green and yellow. It was such a large splotch. It seemed contagious. But the splotch was just a splotch. And the mother outside the hole waved her hand in front of her face for a moment, shaking her hand hard to change the blood flow. Her finger swelled with rushing blood. The bruise darkened. It puffed. She aimed the hammer at her thumb again, swung, and missed. She said her thumb was lucky.”

April 12, 2015 – NaPoWriMo days 11 & 12

“There was something in the basement. It jerked and twitched. It was not a monster. It was mother but without her mother face. She sat in a corner, rocking in her favorite chair, which was bashed and splintered. Each time she rocked, the back of the chair struck a wall. The chair grew weaker and weaker. The splinters grew larger, changing from shards to planks. The chair disintegrated beneath her. Mother rocked the chair into oblivion.”

***

“Mother was barefoot. Her clothing was soggy upon her. Mother lay on the tiles for a long time. Half of the tiles were gone, patched over with thick layers of uneven plaster. The plaster created a thin floor that was best not to walk upon. And so mother lay to the side of that gone hole. If she rolled onto the plaster, the hole would reopen, and mother would drop to the basement.”

April 10, 2015 – NaPoWriMo day 10

“We gathered around mother and beat the loosened floor with our pots. We broke through the floorboards. We shattered the concrete. We made a hole that looked into the basement. We and mother stared into the basement bowels. We looked at the illumination. We saw the places where the creature had shit. There were piles of feces everywhere. The mounds were brown and stinking. The smell came up from the hole. It smelled like meat. Dirty, rotten meat. Mother brought the hammer down again. She widened the perimeter of the hole.”

April 9, 2015 – NaPoWriMo day 9

“We could not tell them apart: the thing in the basement and mother. Each had the same yowling quality to their voices although mother spoke and the thing in the basement hummed. Both bled from the corners of their mouths. Their tongues poked out to collect the blood that flowed. Sometimes they shook involuntarily. Their bodies shuddered so violently we thought they might jar their bones out of position. The thing in the basement did not attack. It stood in the doorway, shuddering and humming. It cowered when mother came near.”

April 8, 2015 – NaPoWriMo day 8

“Mother made dinner. It was the bloodiest meal served in the house. The chicken was raw and stuffed within an underdone roast beef. Red drippings splattered the linoleum flooring. We tiptoed through the puddles. When we sat at the table, our chairs were all wet with roast beef juice. Mother did not think there was anything wrong with the spillage. She said juice was simply a part of the meat. Mother cut the chicken-beef thing and we watched the pink spill out.”

April 7, 2015 – NaPoWriMo day 7

“What was beneath the door gobbled the food. We heard the chewing, the crunching. The plate slipped along the slit of door, moving to the left, then to the right. What was behind the door pushed the plate out the slit, then pulled it back in. We held our breaths and waited for the hand to be revealed. But the hidden thing would not be unveiled. It kept its body out of sight. It did not matter how we squinted. We saw nothing. We heard what was there but there was not even a foot to view. The plate clanged against the landing, then pushed out the slit again. The plastic dish had no food left. It was licked clean. The staircase creaked again. The steps moved away from us.”

April 6, 2015 – NaPoWriMo days 5 & 6

“Mother always roasted the chickens’ bodies whole. She left them feathered and adorned with their combs. She made us pick the unwanted pieces off with our fingers, then pile them onto a small dish that she would then slip beneath the basement door. Mother held the hammer in her fist while she waited for father to carve the roast. Usually mother did the carving but the hammer was in her carving hand. Father did the carving too slowly. Father carved until his hands shuddered. Then mother took over.”

***

“We wanted to know what mother did with the meat she slipped beneath the basement door. She collected all the poultry pieces, all the bits of roast beef trimmings, and then she brought the plate to the door and shoved it beneath. We heard something slurping in the dark. We heard a monster sloshing around. The stairs creaked beneath its weight. The monster wanted to devour everything in the house and mother gave it meat so that it would not eat us.”

April 4, 2015 – NaPoWriMo day 4

“Whenever we entered a room she occupied, mother stood with her back to us. Despite turning away, we still heard her sobs clearly. When she finally faced us, her eyes were bright red with irritation. She took to keeping the door to the under-the-staircase room locked. The dark something slammed the door open otherwise. Even with the lock in place, the door still rattled relentlessly. The dark something wanted in but mother would not allow it. Because she knew the dark something wanted to enter her secret room, mother did not go inside either. The lock was meant for all. The room was no longer accessible.”

April 3, 2015 – NaPoWriMo day 3

“There were chicken corpses buried in the basement. A man with a gray face threw plastic dome-encased roast chickens down the stairs. I caught the chickens in my arms and the plastic was still warm. I did not want to eat the chickens. But my stomach growled and I felt feverish. I ate the chickens while whispering Chicken corpse chicken corpse chicken corpse. I ate the meat with a spoon.”

April 2, 2015 – NaPoWriMo day 2

“Mother locked us in our bedrooms. She said we could not come out. Not until she said so. Until that time, we had to remain locked away. It was because of the things that followed her into the house from the lake. Mother was not herself but she was not the most dangerous in the house. The invisible things were. They watched us when we were not looking. The woman monster was in the basement. She was dead but still rasping. There was liquid in the balloon-like lungs mother cleaved open with her hammer. Mother made such a mess of that woman’s body. She slaughtered it like she did the Easter lamb.”

April 1, 2015 – NaPoWriMo Day 1

“We ate our dinner and mother bled. The blood came from beneath her fingernails and out the teakettle’s spout. The blood iced up in the freezer, creating square bricks of hard red. Father dropped one cube, then two, into his glass of water, and marveled at how the color floated, then unfurled. We played with our forks and knives. We stuck the knife points between the fork tines, cleaning them of anything too small to be visible. We scraped, then cleaned the knives upon our plates. We left brown stains behind. None of them would be washed away.”

It’s April 1st and NaPoWriMo has officially started. I’ll be posting writing every day this month so keep checking back.

March 28, 2015 – Excerpt

“Mother stood in different parts of the room. Sometimes she was near the door. Other times she stood with her forehead pressed to one wall, then the other. When mother was at the back of the room in the place we could not see, we heard her knocking her head against the wall. She did it just hard enough to bruise but so softly that her skin did not break. Mother went into the room and slammed the door. Mother came out of the room and slammed the door. Mother walked around the room, babbling.”

March 27, 2015 – Excerpt

“We followed the red balloon. It was as leaden as mother said it would be. The red balloon moved in circles. It went to the left, then weaved to the right. It was an engorged balloon. It was more biological organ than it was latex entertainment. When I stood near the balloon for more than one minute, my skin began itching. That was part of the radiation. The degenerating cells destroyed everything living in the vicinity. Even if I kept my hands away from the balloon latex, the radiation was catching. I felt it crawling through my muscles. I scratched my elbows and removed a patch of skin.”

March 26, 2015 – Excerpt

“Mother pointed to the ceiling. Mother said we had to crawl. It was the easiest way to escape the fire and travel the length of the hospital without causing our feet to cramp. There were ducts up there, long passageways that moved between the floors in a space that was forever unoccupied. From those crawlspaces, we could see into every room. We could find father. We could look upon the sick and the weary. We could study the doctors. We could see the burned remains of that which was cremated out of its misery. Mother said that in order to reach the space, we had to make a ladder.”

Only six days until the start of National Poetry Writing Month!

March 21, 2015 – Excerpt

“It was night. The lights went out. I was alone in the room, strapped down to my slab of a bed. I could not move. I strained and heard slithering. The slithering came from the corner behind the door. The door was closed. The bathroom door was closed as well. The small closet doors were closed. I could not see anything but the faintest of dusty lights filtering in from beneath the door. The door did not have a glass window on it. It was a heavy piece of wood with a handle. It was the same door that I faced day and night. Sometimes the door was closed but most of the time it was open. This was not one of those times.”

March 20, 2015 – Excerpt

“We wanted to play hide-and-seek but the last time we did, mother ruined our game. She did not let us play without her and then she came chasing after us. She knew where we were before we got there. We decided to play the game without saying it was a game. There would be no counting. There would only be the walking, then the hiding. We hid in the basement. The boiler thumped behind us. We hid in the laundry basket, behind the water heater, and just beneath the stairs. The stairs were grained slats nailed together without a wood back.”

March 18, 2015 – Excerpt

“Mother spent all day in the kitchen cooking a soup that was too red and hard to be poured into our bowls. Mother used all the rotten vegetables found at the bottom of the garbage pail. She wet the dish sponge and wrung it out into the soup as a sort of broth. She added bits of her hair and the lint at the bottom of the laundry basket. She put in scraps of meat which smelled like motor oil and bathroom fungus. She scraped the mold from the grout and tossed the fuzz into the pot as well. The soup smell wafted through the house. Mother stirred and stirred.”

March 14, 2015 – Happy π Day! (And an Excerpt)

“I went to find my mother and father. I left my bedroom and walked in circles around the hospital. I looked in every room I passed. In the rooms with double occupancy (and those rooms were the majority), I stepped inside to look at the bodies stuffed into each of the beds. I could not find mother and father anywhere. I stumbled down to the cafeteria in the hopes that father was in the midst of a chicken rage.”

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Happy Pi (π) Day, everyone. I have fond memories of today because of elementary school. Only instead of pie, I think our math teacher brought in donuts. My re-writing project is going well. I’m jumping between one re-write (“I.P.”) and a new project (“M.A.”) and I’m happy with how both are going. Luckily, there was about 17,000 words of material I was able to salvage from “I.P.” that required a small amount of moving around and re-working. For example, there were two scenes involving a worm and the scenes were pretty similar. So I took the parts I liked from both and melded them to create a single scene. Things like that. Right now, “I.P.” is at around 21,000 words and “M.A.” is at 8,500 words. I’m hoping to finish re-writing “I.P.” before April because NaPoWriMo just adds another item to my list of daily writing tasks. And don’t forget, friendlies: Beware the Ides of March tomorrow. Happy, weekend.

March 12, 2015 – Do over!

Last night, while I was working on my new project (the one I mentioned yesterday that I started because the project I’m supposed to be working on just wasn’t coming together), I started rethinking two recently completed projects that I will refer to as “A.G.” and “I.P.” The project I stalled out on will be called “O.L.” and the project I’m working on now is called “M.A.” So I was working on M.A. and the story was going well. I ended up writing about 4,000 words which I wasn’t expecting. As I wrote, I thought about those prior projects and the uncertainty I felt when I finally finished them.

I realized something big. I didn’t like them. Every writer has a reject drawer/pile/cabinet/whatever. “A.G.” and “I.P.” just weren’t what I wanted them to be. And yes, I finished them and thought I could forget about them. But they were still part of my master file and I only want writing I’m happy with to be part of that master file. I scribbled in my idea notebook “consider rewriting A.G. and I.P.” Did I want to rewrite them? Not really. There were parts in the writing that I was happy with. But the more I thought about the stories as a whole. the less impressed I was by them.

Committing yourself to a project is like a romantic relationship. When you look back upon your relationship/project, you don’t want to realize that you’ve settled. And considering those projects the culmination of what I could have done with them was settling. Granted, settling is easy. It’s essentially a sure thing. But most of the time, the sure thing isn’t what you really need. And those projects, while they have some interesting ideas, aren’t what I need. So I’m going back through them and finding the parts I believe work so that I can weave them into the new material, thus creating a finished work that is considerably stronger than the prior incarnation.

As I was wrote the prior projects, I kept jumping around in the narrative. I was one place, then I was elsewhere. The story was confused. There was too much happening that made no sense. Even I was confused at times and if the writer is confused, then the reader most likely has no hope of figure out what’s happening. I can’t let that complacency stand. So what if I finished the projects? They aren’t what I wanted. And even more than that, when I think of someone else reading them, I’m not happy with the idea. Like I said before, there are parts that work but the parts I hate seem to distract from the positive elements.

I’m pretty sure I can keep about 1/4 – 1/2 of the manuscripts and just build upon them until they make more sense. I’m not necessarily starting from scratch but I am trying to restructure the manuscripts so that they make more sense and have a more cohesive narrative arc.

Part of the issue I was having with the writing is my love of single paragraphs. I just don’t like breaking up a single narrative into shorter sections. I find it distracting. As I was working on “M.A.” last night, I formatted the file so that there were designated chapter headings, something I’ve only done sporadically in my writing. There was something about being able to visually see the layout that helped the writing alone. I felt more organized. The story seemed to flow. Instead of worrying about continuing a narrative that was over because the paragraph seemed too short, I stopped when the narrative wanted to stop. Somehow, just that little change helped me write five chapters. I’m formatting the revisited projects in the same way so that I can have a clearer idea of how the story is working.

So that’s my new task. I’m looking forward to it. Granted, there’s some hesitance because I’m not fond of revisiting manuscripts I already filed away but I am pretty excited to see how I can enhance the narratives into manuscripts I’m proud of.

On another note, April is coming up in a matter of weeks and you know what that means… NAPOWRIMO! Yes, friends, it’s going to be another year of National Poetry Month and I’ll be posting bits of my daily writing. Am I necessarily writing poetry? Eh. Not really. It’s a loose interpretation if you will. But it’s writing. And it’s a month dedicated to writing. The fun starts on April 1st and if you want to keep up with the prompts, then visit http://napowrimo.net. I’ll be back tomorrow, friends.

March 11, 2015 – Excerpt

“Mother walked into a lake. It was a round lake, with gray water that was always smooth, even during the springtime storms. Mother waited until the sky was charcoal. She waited until there was lightning. She stood at the back of the house, just inside the storm door, and she watched the lake. It reflected back in her eyes. Her eyes were as gray as the water. She blinked slowly, her eyelids coming together as if in sleep, and then she opened them again. Everything mother did was done delicately.”

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’ve been rethinking my latest project. I keep getting caught up in these odd little details that were becoming distractions. I’ve started the project about three times but I’m still not happy with how the story is. Since I’m not sure where I’m going with it, I started something new until I can fix the original project.

March 5, 2015 – Excerpt

“For some time, the man’s face was a pink tire surrounding a black cavity but then the black filled in with red and the pink drained into the center, until the brick semi-circle formed. The man muttered despite his mouth being gone. He muttered but the words were unidentifiable. They more sounds than anything. They were garbled and warped. The man strained to make them but the condition of his head prevented them from being true communication. The weight upon the remains of his impacted bone structure was too much.”

March 4, 2015 – Excerpt

“In the first room, every available inch of flooring was covered in furniture. There were couches and beds, long dressers and desks, each one packed in so that no part of the carpeting was visible. Upon that furniture were the skinned men. Their faces were stretched wide with grin. Several had their fingers in their mouths and were suckling.”

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