Shadow Girl Reflects III: Reciprocity here, there, how about everywhere???

So, this week has been an experience. A learning one. A fun one. All of the above.

There was a decent abundance of hands-on activity that went on this week. A lot of play and experimentation with interactivity. Sound, mainly. But, it certainly can add a lot to a story, can’t it? Both the audible kind and the written equivalent. It’s an injection of life– noise, beats, rests, silence, rhythm.

Enough waxing poetic,though. Let’s get to the highlights!

Creative Enterprise on the Rise

It’s one thing to talk about the shapes networked narratives take and a whole other thing to actually be a part of the shaping. Even in some small way. This I found out early in the week.

First, some framing.

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been writing short stories here inspired by bot nonsense. You can find all of my work thus far under the Killing It tag. Fair warning, they’re all a little….unsettling. A bit disturbing. Were you really expecting anything else???

Anyway, this week’s story, a quaint, little apocalyptic nightmare check it out, inspired its own AU in the comments section. Perhaps AU is a bit of an understatement? Overstatement? Must consult @dogtrax to get a better answer. He’s the one who began this creative enterprise within a creative enterprise enigma.

To me, we networked a narrative. Collaborated to extend meaning. To meditate on meaning, really. How much of it can really be interpreted by a machine? And, what about the author’s intent–how much can they impose to shape understanding? How much can readers re-claim in some way? I felt like these questions were explored through the creative act here of storytelling.

I got a real kick out of interacting with Kevin. There was an essence of the unexpected in our exchanges. I never knew where he was going to lead/leave me. And, I assume he felt the same? I feel like what we did is something many larger scale networked narratives hope to accomplish–functioning reciprocity. Appreciation for appreciation. Story for story.

I appreciated exploring story with Kevin this week.

Sound & Silence

Speaking of appreciation….

Our main activity this week asked us to listen. Listen and appreciate. Savor the sounds that so easily disappear into the background, relegated to white noise. Accepted as a given.

In my post about this, I connected the idea of listening to caring–we listen only to what we care about it. Perhaps, I went off on a little tangent/rant… But, I was really struck by what Radiolab host, Jad Abumrad, discussed in this video–the idea that listening to others and then imagining with them can facilitate empathy which can have real world impact. It is something that Dr. Zamora definitely talks much about and she seems to really want to believe it. And, so do I. Like I say in my post, this is such a beautiful and optimistic idea. Something worth exploring more.

I think the affordances of incorporating sound into a digital space make it well worth the investment.

Blackout

And, at last, we arrive at last week’s in-class activity. Blackout Poetry.

I could not make a coherent–in sense or aesthetic–story out of any 3 or 4 posts from the network. 2, though, could make a poem. Look see here. Actually, I kind of turned this exercise into an extension of my aforementioned creative enterprise. Which, in layman’s turns, means I veered off from the task. Litte bit. Sorry. Not really.

Anyway, don’t check out that link if ritual/serial murder and implied cannibalism bother your sensibilities. That’s the disclaimer. Maybe it should come before the link….? Nah. Nobody freakin’ clicks them anyway.

Kudos to Stephanie for supplying the other half of the poem I pieced together ^.^ It’s much appreciated.

And, here’s my contribution:

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Flesh dreamed monstrous, dreamed somber, faceless vultures, abandoned skeletons, splendid demons of yesteryear, patient gargoyles.

It’s probably much appreciated that I wasn’t allowed to pick the theme for this exercise either.

I really enjoyed this activity and hope to be able to incorporate some idea of subtraction in order to form meaning to my work. Something I played around with in the Elit piece I made last semester was sound and taking it away. Silence and how it manifests or is made to manifest is a big area of interest for me. So, I’m totally game to play around with what meaning I can discover via what I don’t say.

****

As always, the Links:

Daily Digital Alchemies

@dogtrax–blog

Catch everyone on the flip side!


Tagged: netnarr, personal, weeklies

Learning to Listen aka “How can the Bar be this Low and You’re Still Tripping Over It?”

Hearing, I believe, is one of the senses most taken for granted. Listening, subsequently, a skill most under-developed. Relegated to a secondary concern. An afterthought. Oh, I should’ve listened…. It’s an unfortunate development in and of itself but what it seems a symptom of is perhaps even more troubling/upsetting.

We don’t listen to each other because we don’t care about each other.

We have been and are being conditioned not to care about each other. Not to believe that everyone’s voice is important. That everyone’s story is worth listening to. Worth appreciating.

Listening in this age is an under-developed skill by design. The structures and powers that be benefit from our disengagement with the world and with each other. They secure their power and retain their privileges through our apathy.

Because of this, those of us who make an effort to listen and respond to what we hear become dangerous. Liabilities. Targets to discredit and criminalize at all costs.

Because listening is not just listening. It is turning sounds into story, transforming tones into the tangible. Into a foundation. For what? Empathy–ancient but awesome magic.

In this video, Radiolab co-host Jad Abumrad discusses the affordances of working in an audible medium. Chiefly, he talks about listening as being a tool for co-engagement and co-authorship–imagining story together. Which, he believes, paves the way for empathy. Or, at the very least, leaves a place for it. To grow. To be built. To live.

And, what a beautiful and optimistic idea this is–that through dreaming together we can create a better world. We can care better for each other. We can care at all. (It makes my heart want to pull a Grinch….)

It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Which is exactly the response the powers that be want us to have. Jaded and disillusioned (applicable terms to describe most of my–bad— high school poetry coincidentally enough…)

Anyway, tangential rant over. For now.

Let’s talk about some podcasts! Well, one podcast. The Truth one I eeny-meeny-moed. You’re Not Alone. It was an experience.

Full disclosure, once upon a time, I used to listen to Welcome to Nightvale. A very popular podcast another member of our Alchemist Network–Masooch–talks about at length in this post. Check it. There are lots of links for you to explore.

So, that’s my only reference point for podcasts. A little bizarre but usually very plot-driven. Lots of ear candy–musical interludes, ample sound effects. I mean, in an audible space, everything becomes a sound effect, even silence. It’s strategic.

I found all of these preconceptions to be useful or to hold true while listening to You’re Not Alone.

In this podcast, listeners are introduced to a character to named Jared, an Afghanistan war vet suffering from PTSD. His condition seems to manifest in a cacophony of disembodied voices that follow him around, mocking and taunting him, trying to provoke him to do bad things or think bad thoughts. This portrayal kind of reminded me of what paranoid schizophrenics report experiencing. In fact, people suffering from both schizophrenia and depression are advised to maybe skip this podcast. And, I think the warning was well-warranted and very responsible of the creators.

At times, it could be incredibly overwhelming to listen. The voices kept coming, one after the other, steady whispers that turned into a deafening drone. Jared’s own voice was sometimes muffled by these voices–while the character he is interacting with sound perfectly clear to listeners. I thought that was very clever and it effectively communicated how Jared hears himself–as almost muted in the maelstrom. Every word a fight.All of this noise, too, contrasted well with the quieter, calmer moments. It instilled more meaning in them, to hear how much must be silenced in order for a scrap of calm.

The voices never really go away though. We see this at the end, when Jared is performing for his friends. The voices harmonize with him. Perhaps, they are more pacified? But, their repetition of the titular phrase still seems wholly taunting. Maybe that’s my jaded-ness speaking, though. The end of this podcast just seemed bittersweet to me.

Overall, I did feel that this podcast illustrated what Mr. Abumrad was talking about very well. Through audible means, a sense of empathy and compassion was created here. I felt for Jared. Wanted him to have a better ending. A more satisfying answer to his problems. It bothered me that I felt he didn’t get what he deserves–and, see, that’s evidence I care about him, that he has value to me. In order for someone to deserve better, they must first deserve something at all to you. Quite the concept, apparently. That latter thing.

 

I guess I digress.

 

Extra

***Kind of unrelated and a lot disturbing–great way to start a sentence–but the podcast reminded me of this story I read online a while ago. It’s one of the few that’s unsettled me and I still can’t actually click on the image attached to the story. I like to think I’m pretty unflappable but this is just one that really, well, disturbed me. It’s not audible or anything but I think its theme runs in the same vein as the podcast. Hope you enjoy ^.^***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tagged: "SCULLY!!", digital storytelling, how i feel listening to the news, I'm scully by the way, justlistening, MULDER, netnarr, Networked Narratives, not wanting to believe, personal, thinking out loud, xfiles

Bone Girl .V

Flesh dreamed monstrous

beasts. Dreamed somber, faceless

vultures, abandoned

skeletons, splendid demons

of yesteryear, patient 

gargoyles.

Incredible beasts still

call, in the morning. But

only briefly, abandoning

scandalous actuality.

Tweet, tweet….

Ba-dump.

Mama bird was first a baby bird herself. A fledgling, picking at bones brought to the nest. Mama’s Mama bird was an excellent hunter. Proficient collector of Nature’s provisions. And, not a scrap ever went to waste.

Want not, baby bird. Mama’s Mama bird was ever-squawking. Nature always provides.

Mama’s Mama bird taught her everything she needed to know. How to search and skulk. To lure. Catch.

Then, how to use. How to prepare. Preserve. Get to the bone.

The wait, Mama bird tittered, thumbing a bony groove, makes it earned. You’ll understand soon. Good things come to those baby birds who wait. Savory things. 

Mama learned well how to wait. To be patient.

In dreams, she struck. Like the vultures she watched when Mama bird left the nest to stock up on reading materials.

Awake, she held her Mama bird’s bowl steady, the pound of the pestle harmonizing with another rhythmic beat in her young ears. She handed chips and fragments over for reading, performing her own in her head. Good thing Mama bird never touches me like she does the bone.

Blood older, she wove Mama bird’s ligaments for her, tight around the crone’s bony limb. Tighter still around her flabby neck.

Mama’s Mama bird was a good teacher. Good provider.

Too good, perhaps. Or….

Perhaps, Mama bird should’ve read her bone better.

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Mama provided.

***I know I wasn’t supposed to add text to this task. My bad. The poem I was able to piece together though reminded me of a pieced-together–er, well not anymore–character and I just had to write. Hope it doesn’t take away from anything. You can read the poem and the proceeding narrative as separate pieces if you prefer ^.^ Kudos to Stephanie as well!***


Tagged: blackoutpoetry, bone girl, Bot Prompts, Killing It, mama provides, netnarr, Networked Narratives, personal, storytelling, what do you think?

Wasteland Girl

Fog thick like honey but not half-so-sweet clogs the air.

Is the air.

Without a respirator, it would coat my throat, crawl down the black hole between my bony clavicles to cloy in my lungs. Convince me to claw at my chest till the pressure had an escape route. Ten routes to be exact.

Our atmosphere was the first to go.

Corroded by uncensored contaminants. Ignited by the bombs. I fell asleep beneath a burning sky, lulled by Mother’s staggered breaths. By Papa’s sniffles. He gave Mother his respirator. Choked before he began to claw–thank god for small favors, we were told.

The water went next.

Rivers ran dry. Oceans evaporated overnight. Brooks boiled in their basins. Tongues licked lake beds for every. last. drop.

                                                               drop.

                                                                             drop.

Some wells survived. Shut up tight before the blasts became white noise, a circadian hum. Burrowed deep into the bowels of bunkers that long-outlived their irradiated occupants.

Mother and I managed to commandeer one. Before marrying Papa and moving to the city, Mother grew up on a farm. Knew how to wield an ax. Cut clean. Came in handy.

She made me handy. In case anyone returned for their missing pieces. Made me hardy. At personal cost, perhaps.

She succumbed to the smog, like Papa. Gave me the respirator she wore when I broke mine. Careless child, Mother said, trading our masks. I ground my teeth. Bit my tongue. Thought I could still taste Papa’s final exhalations on the interior of my new protective gear.

What did that make her, I wondered, for raising a careless child? For misplacing her respirator in the first place? My answer came swift, like the bombs.

It made Mother dead.

Me, alone.

Mean.

I should’ve been nicer.

The farm was a cold, bitter place, Mother told me while teaching me how to wield the ax. Froze things. Windows shut. Truck doors in place. Blood. During slaughter, it became a solid, crimson sheet of ice across the fields. Bright, red slivers into dark trails as far as the eye could see. Like how the sky looks now, she remarked after my first clean swing. Time to colour the fields, followed the next.

Maybe….maybe, I could’ve been nicer if I wasn’t taught to be so hardy. If Mother wasn’t. If Papa were.

This world gives as good as it gets, though.

It got Papa and Mother.

Now, it has me.

Wind whips across the withering wasteland stretched before me, ruffling what few patches of green stubbornly remain, stinging skin. Overhead, clouds a sickly off-white– almost-muddyruddy-brown streak across the sky. On-and-off they’ve spit.

At the moment, acid rain falls in gentle drops across the still plain. Good thing I covered the well earlier. Each drip seems to sizzle upon impact, eroded dirt rising like embers.

In the distance, several shadows. Lumpy, lopsided blobs just peeking over the murky horizon. Further out, ruins rise like knives, jagged and rough but pointy enough to tear through honey-thick fog. Remnants of a church, I believe. Eastern Orthodox according to the slightly domed spikes. Dead spires, Papa rasped not long before the end.


The blobs grow bigger. Become more than vague impressions. A figure with a crutch under one arm. No other arm. Another hobbling on stumps. One dragging itself along. I grip the hilt of my ax, knuckles out. Widen my stance. A baleful breeze tugs at the strings of my Mother’s hand-me-down respirator.

Time to colour the fields.

Deceivingly cool drops graze what daring flesh is exposed. They burn. I don’t wipe them away. Let them slide down skin. Keep my hold tight around Mother’s legacy. Inhale my inheritance. Every bitter particle.

Shadows creep ever nearer. Dingy clouds dye the sky deep red. A sheer sheet of blood.

Time to colour.

My hands heavy with the weight of want. Mother’s. Papa’s. A careless child’s. A suffocating world’s.

Time.

It is not safe here.

That, I promise.

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Attribution:

@str_voyage

Tweet inspiration

Sound snippets ~cool site. check it out. (not sure if there’s a better way to embed sounds on WordPress *free of upgrade charge*… :/)

***All my short, sweet, & disturbing stories can be found under the Killing It tag ^.^***


Tagged: a strange voyage, Bot prompt, Killing It, personal, story, storytelling, wasteland girl

Shadow Girl Reflects II: Stories as Constellations

I think one of the most exciting–but terrifying–aspects of networked narratives is the inability to “pin them down.” They are constantly shifting creatures unto themselves. Stars in the night sky, telling a different tale with every step taken. From one view, this idea twinkles. But, from another, it doesn’t even register. The scope is ambiguous, subjective. Perhaps unreal. We try to make charts and maps but new information is always coming in. Things that once shined, dim. And, things that didn’t exist, do. How is anyone supposed to account for that other than to create an account of the changes?

These thoughts about how stories inhabit digital spaces and take shape followed me through my journeys this week. More, thoughts about how digital mediums can influence a story’s unfolding itself kept me company. What affordances digital platforms can provide imagination and creativity–even engage it. What is possible in a networked narrative and why are these possibilities meaningful? Like, is there a larger application?

Re-imagining & Imagined Travel

Well, this week was a trip.

First, a stroll down memory lane. Re-imagining the cover art for a book from a series I really like and appreciate. You can check out the specifics here. My dabblings with Photoshop also brought back old times–from high school, where I learned how to use the program. Not going to lie, my work reveals my rustiness. But, I found the concept surrounding the work to be an enlightening exercise in thinking about the ways images convey stories in and of themselves. How, tweaking them ever so slightly can alter perception. How images are multi-faceted–given power through our perceptions of them.

From reading Elit and make my own work of Elit last semester, I know the power of a subtly or not-so-subtly placed image in a work. In some cases, it’s an “Easter Egg”, so to speak, for those who catch it. In others, it expands or extends the level of meaningful interaction with a work. Digital storytelling, in this respect, I think returns to the days of picture-books. It returns our appreciation for them as well as reinvents it.

While working on my second exercise this week, a postcard from a magickal place, I especially felt a sense of wonderment in creating with images. Perhaps that is in part because of the magickal realm I “traveled” to–look see for yourself (maybe take your chess skills out of their cerebral storage case). But, there was this sense that I was extending myself in my work–kind of allowing my readers to literally “see” inside my head. Inside my world. How I imagine. It’s something I always try to do in my more traditional storytelling ventures–something I think all of us try to do–but short of turning our work into a picture-book (with all the childlike connotations that go along with that) it’s not the always feasible or realize-able. Words can only do so much on their own. We are each unto our own imaginations.

Overall, I found myself thinking about story construction whilst working on these projects. What elements are necessary to tell a “full” story and which ones are superfluous? How many words vs. how many images. What conditions do I want to plop readers into? What associations do I want to play with? How compelling can I make this?

I felt very imaginative and I think my work reflects that, perhaps, more than anything else. Imagination is my favourite form of magic and drawing other people into it as much as I can is my favourite spell to cast.

Fold that Story

So, impromptu trips. Let’s spend a moment on those.

For those who don’t know or didn’t/couldn’t participate, Kevin (@dogtrax) started an open, networked narrative on Twitter this week using a program called Fold that Story (?) If I’m not mistaken about that last part. Anyway, participants were all given this opportunity to write blindly, as it were. Meaning this story was written in bits and pieces, of which, participants only saw a singular piece before their own bit. So, we didn’t access to the whole history of the narrative. We got 250 characters max at a time and had to come of with 250 characters of own to keep the story going. To be honest, I’m surprised this story we created wasn’t more incoherent. Check it out.

Telephone 2.0 comes to mind–that game where you try to pass along one message from person to person without it being too warped. Except, here, it’s a community of people trying to tell a story through interacting with each other, passing the message along to create.

It was a very enchanting experience and really captured the essence of the “unexpected” that I am personally really enjoying the more and more I’m able to experience it. Both times I contributed, I felt genuine surprise. In traditional literature, with all of the plot development that goes in, genuine surprise can be hard to come by–especially for more seasoned readers, if you will. So, I appreciate the small enjoyment of surprise when I can come by it.

Creative Enterprise

In the wake of all of this story experimentation, I have decided to create a tag on my blog for bot prompts and the like–work inspired by what some consider to be random nonsense. Honestly, I love the free-associative-ness of Twitterbots. I find the creativity they provoke to be fascinating and facilitating.

I have long term work I’m cultivating inspired by this tweet. It’s about necromancy and reapers and the living dead. If that interests you and you like reading indie stories, you may enjoy this series. Part I, Part II (will update as I create)

As for the more general, stand-alone prompts. I’ve got 1 so far that I submitted for a dda this week. But, I’ve got a lot of prompts lined up that I will hopefully get to this weekend ^.^ @helterskelliter on twitter if you come across any interesting or bizarre/disturbing prompts.

In the meantime, if you want to read a short and sweet story about serial/ritual murder and implied cannibalism, this story may be for you.

Until today, I was having trouble placing this independent work in the greater scheme of my learning as it pertains to this course. But, during my first Studio Visit, something kind of clicked. So, let’s talk about that now.

Technical Difficulties Notwithstanding

(Anyone else scrolling through AO3 before this discussion or was that just me?)

So, I couldn’t figure out how to get my stupid mic to work for this Studio Visit. Which was a bummer. But, it didn’t end up taking anything away from my communication and my ability to interact with Elizabeth Minke and Flourish Klink (especially Flourish which was so cool ^.^ to like interact with a active creator in this field~~excuse the fangirling but, it’s kind of appropriate *nudge, nudge*). Anyway, one of the major things I took away from the discussion we had was this idea that writing fanfic and engaging with it can pave the way for larger accomplishments. Small acts of creativity can build upon each other or can inspire larger acts. In essence, you need these smaller acts in order for the larger ones to take shape.

In this way, my short stories are facilitators of greater creative thought. They exercise my imagination. Feed it. Nourish it. Nurture it. And, more creativity is never a bad thing when it comes to thinking about digital spaces and networked narratives.

Of course, this discussion on fanfiction and fan culture was infinitely fascinating and I still haven’t really wrapped my thoughts around all of its great points. Honestly, I don’t think I can. But, some other stand-out concepts for me were “tags” and “the illusion of representation.”

Being a fairly avid reader of fanfic, I’m pretty familiar with the functions of tags in the community. They help organize, mainly, and they help moderate–so people don’t have to read things that trigger them in some way or things that they just don’t enjoy or appreciate in a narrative. Having someone ask me in the chat about how tags censure was kind of shocking to me because of my own understandings. Tagging is voluntary–not strictly imposed. Creators, of their own volition, tag their work. And, the intent is to make the fandom space a safe environment. It is not to censure. I mean, in the fandoms I’m a part of, at least, I’ve never seen it used in a nefarious, agenda-forwarding way. Tags are a moderating force not a censuring one.

As for the illusion of representation, I definitely know it exists but, as a young white woman, I don’t think my personal context lends itself to me fully realizing how much of an issue this is. In one sense, I think that there is a lot to appreciate about the representation in fan communities. As an ace individual, I get to read stories with asexual characters I otherwise would not be able to. Mainstream media doesn’t really have a place for that or for other LGBTQA+ people (I’m aware that the respresenting ace/aro people instead of allies is a contentious issue–moving on). So, I think, in some ways, fanfic and fandom are progressive and inclusive. But, I also think they can be exclusionary in other ways, specifically when it comes to race or ethnicity. There is certainly a shortage of POC representation in these spaces. And, even going back to LGBTQA+ representation, it’s only recently that healthier depictions of same-sex couples exist. Probably because the writers using these spaces are becoming more diverse themselves.

Anyway, there is just so much to unpack from this conversation. I can’t possibly do it all in one post. In class, maybe we can get more into how fandom fosters communal creativity that can be applied to this overarching idea of the civic imagination. What is appreciated in fandom that could be more appreciated outside of it?

Last Thoughts

I don’t think I have any answers to the questions I first posed about networked narratives and their designs. As close as I can tell, digital stories are constellations–they can be pieced together from various points and these points can sometimes exist vast distances from each other. Some can be bright while others are subtle. Some may take a while to appear while others have more immediacy attached to them.

And, mapping them out is a whole other story.

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Links

Daily Digital Alchemies

Twitter (birdie in the upper left-hand corner or in the navigation bar below, too!)

Art Update

When enameling–adding colour to a metal surface via heat–you have to protect the side you are not adding colour to with a material called scalex. It prevents the intense heat of the kiln–that is for melting the glass particles that make enamel–from discoloring or possibly burning the metal. When you take your piece out of the kiln, the scalex, which dries to a solid substance before being put in the kiln, becomes a flimsy, paper-like layer that falls right off–revealing unharmed metal beneath. These paper remnants, I think, kind of embody that idea I mentioned earlier–doing small things for a larger creative act to shine.

1500 degrees does a number

 

I just wanted to share this mini-epiphany with you all.

Catch you on the flip-side!


Tagged: digital alchemy, digital storytelling, elizabeth minke, fandom, fanfiction, flourish klink, netnarr, Networked Narratives, storytelling, studio visit, weeklies

Bone Girl

When my blood was younger, I imagined I could soar. Like the condors that circled overhead. Sights set high, I’d roam through the marketplace. Fly barefoot down the city’s skeletal paths, unburdened and unbound, wind tangling knots in my hair–knots Mama would carefully unwind once night nosedived. Then, re-wind in the leather thong she kept wrapped ’round one bony wrist. Only, double.

Twice the blessings, baby bird. She explained when I squawked confusion. Nature never weaves mistakes. In hair or flesh. Nature provides only the truth. A gift you’ll learn to embrace when you can.

Mama was a natural at spinning stories. Did it for a living. Ours. She was a fortune-teller. An augur. Soothsayer. Soothslayer, hissed some shadows as we passed. Mama only tightened her hold on my wrist. Clenched her teeth in a sharp smile.

See, some divination dabblers read tea leaves. Or palms.

Mama read bone.

Mostly bird. Sometimes not. Always ground with a pestle and mortar till only bite-size fragments remained.

Once, shadows echoing in my ears, I asked where it came from. The not bird. Unruffled, Mama set her pestle aside and leaned down. Beady eyes to mine. Smile close enough to cut. She cupped my face in her rickety grip, ran her knobby fingers over the knife points of my cheek bones.

Nature provides, baby bird.

She released me and returned to her work. I brushed my fingertips over the edges Mama soothed. Seemed to size-up. Thought about birds. About bird bones and their brittleness. Fragility. Thought, as Mama added pressure to the pestle, about how the only difference between bird bones and not is the sound they make when crushed. Bird bones snap.

Mama crunched and crunched and crunched.

 

It was a courtesy, Mama explained later, to provide for our clients as Nature does. Drain the blood. Soak flesh from bone. Gather the pieces for assembling a new whole. She never quite told me where the courtesy was, though, in tying woven ligaments ’round the bony wrist clients couldn’t see. Where only could see, once I grew more into my own bones. Perhaps outgrew as deeper and deeper aches seem to suggest these days.

Blood older, eyes different, I saw our home full of many unexplained courtesies. Undocumented provisions. Truths that flew high above my head like the condors I used to run through the streets chasing. Foolish. Vultures always lead to the same place.

My place is before a pestle and mortar. Bone in the bowl. Leather wrapped tight ’round one wrist with knotted blessings, ligaments tighter ’round the other with less-knotted truthMama never specified which side of her she was referring to.

At the table behind me, a client waiting. They shouldn’t be kept…waiting. It’s rude. Discourteous.

“Just a moment.” I call over my shoulder, hand gripping the pestle.

“Take your time, child.” A withered voice. Brittle like bird bone and raspy like a requiem. “Hate for your Mama to curse my impatience from beyond.”

“Mama would never curse.” Tighten my grip. Add pressure. Stone meeting bone.”Only bless.” Crunch.

“May she rest in peace.” Pieces. With my free hand, I snatch up a fly-away fragment. Smooth my fingertips along its edges.

Nature provides, baby bird.

How right Mama was. Nature gave her me. And now, I lift the bowl of bone before me, finger the fragment still in my hand, I can give Mama back.

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Mama Provides.

***Like creepy stories, check out this and this. I’ll be publishing short, spooky/disturbing stories inspired by interesting prompts regularly on this blog ^.^***

 

 

 


Tagged: Bot Prompts, creative enterprise, netnarr, personal, story, storytelling

Hello From the Other Side…

(No, not the Adele song. Sorry. Not my style~~~)

Instead, recently, I went on a trip Through the Looking Glass and just had to send a postcard. Despite the times, the Red & White Queendoms have yet to make the switch to the pony express. This may because of the knightly employment all horses in these lands already seem to have….

Anyway, these circumstances left me only the option of snail mail. So, I made do.At the edge of where these two Queendoms meet, is a third territory. Something about Hearts and Wonder, or whatever. I was warned to mind to mind my neck if I decided to venture past the border, be careful not to stick it out too far. Keep my head down and all that. I think it was just a ruse to get me to buy a scarf or a hat from one of the area’s boutiques. The hatter honestly sounded mad.

Setting my misgivings aside, I did snag a scarf or two….perhaps a hat…that hatter was oddly charming…..oh! and this postcard. Hope it finds you well!

 
greetingsfromtheotherside

fromtheothersideotherside

(Alice,

You weren’t kidding when you said this place was all topsy-turvey! It’s taken twice as long to get as far as I want to go. Two steps forward to get one step back and all that jazz. The food leaves little to be desired too… Will write you again if I ever get where I’m going!

With Love,

Kelli)

****

Both sides of this postcard were crafted in Photoshop with my limited, high school knowledge of the program to guide me. Some cropping was done here and there. The perspective warped. Image flipped, like a reflection (*nudge, nudge*). Then, a mask or several playing around with the contrast. Some layers, too. Slap on some text. Distort it or reflect (*nudge*) it. And, voila!

I did have some issues with making a stamp and the other postage. Didn’t have the patience, mainly, to make something more authentic looking. So, I did what I always do, and got creative. Hope that doesn’t take anything away from the work.

Also, know Cheshire doesn’t appear in Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. But, I thought the Cheshire cat grin was a cool, aesthetic decision. Sue me. Cheshire is a fave fictional character. (A bit below Dr. Lecter though. You can check that piece dedicated to that preference here.)

Anyway, as it did Alice, I hope all of this finds you well. And, puts, perhaps, a smile or the trace of one like Cheshire’s on you face ^.^


Tagged: alice in wonderland, lewis carroll, magicpostcards, netnarr, Networked Narratives, photoshop, through the looking glass

Living Dead Girl II

Part I

Nights are always the worst. The loudest. Screams do not the sweetest of lullabies make. With time, though, I’ve found the most incessant sounds can become lulling. A buzzing hum, attracted to a torch burning low. Zzzz…. Zzzz…. The occasional sizzle of an Icarus acolyte.

Nana slept with a citronella candle on her night table, her ever-cracked window an invitation for all kinds of pests. Even in winter, the window remained a sliver shy of its sill. Wind wailed like a whistle through it. Nana whistled along as she lit her candle. As she lowered the match for me to blow out.

They don’t mean to keep us up, Nana said, tucking me in to bed. They’re just lost and scared. You’d cry too. You will. Trust me, ThanaIt’s better if you’ve got a light on when the tears come.

On a little hackneyed table in the back room, a citronella candle rests. Dust chokes the wick.

Silence c r e e p s as the sun rises…. well, at the very least, screaming settles into negligible staccato as the living world awakes.

Two beady, black eyes meet mine first thing. A blink. An inquisitive crook of its head, perhaps curious at meeting a pair of eyes darker than its own, and the bird takes off. Too small to be a crow. Perhaps a rook? Or, a magpie? Corvids have called these cemetery grounds home for almost as long as my ancestors have. Lately, the birds have been leaving gifts. Shiny, polished things. Buttons and charms. Detritus of life.

This morning, I find only an smooth, inky feather.

A big stretch dislodges the quilt I don’t recall tucking around my shoulders last night. It’s the silvery one with the threads like comet trails. Must’ve sparkled in the moonlight. I’m surprised the birds didn’t tear it apart.

I leave my feathery gift on the sill for now. The quilts need folding and the salt on the floor, sweeping. Me, feeding.

Mornings are quiet affairs, interrupted only by chirps here and there, accompanied always by a warm mug of herbal tea. Jasmine, today. The only sizzle that unsettles the air is the one that lets me know my omelette is ready to be flipped. Nana made the best omelettes, from eggs Ol’ Sid brought fresh from the farm twice a week.

Now Sid stares in my window twice a week, hollowed gaze like two, bulbous black eggs.

I eat around the burnt edges of my omelette. Mentally add a carton of eggs to the list. When breakfast is done, I clear the counter. Place my plate in the sink. Leave the pan I made my omelette in on the burner. I’ll have another for dinner. Sid keeps his distance when I do.

My fragrant tea comes with me back into the main room. Past a small white table with two matching chairs and a flower to boot. Past mattresses–junkyard and estate sale finds– for walls. A neat stack of quilts. A less neat stack of tomes. Then, another stack beside a tall bookshelf. An open window. To the mirror by the door. A black shroud hides most of its surface from view. Beneath it, a low shelf, its crevices crowded with more books. Many with Greek titles. Some German, Italian. One in Chinese. All about the dead. Well… all about bringing them back.

I set my mug beside a cluster of half-melted candles and reach for the shroud. Tip-toes are taken to. The stool is by the bookshelf, tucked in between the two haphazard stacks on the floor. Late night reading. It’s why I lost track of the clock. Can’t see it, here, beneath the mirror, from behind a crooked tower of crooked magic.

The silky shroud slips through my fingers. A hollowed gaze, oozing a deep red, meets mine. In the mirrored glass, I watch shadows, grey in this early hour, quickly solidify into form. Torso. Legs. Arms. Neck. Head. Smile. A dainty hand–holding a decidedly less dainty cleaver–raises in a wave.

“Good morning, Mary.” I say, as the rest of Mary’s ensemble appears–a hazy shift splattered in shades of crimson and stocking to match.

“Is it?” Mary inquires, drifting nearer. A cloying, coppery scent overpowers the heady smell of jasmine. Tea, is also added to the list for later. Preferably something strong. Killer, even.

“As good as any.”

Now, Mary smiles a big smile, a slash of white across her grey face. Without eyes to meet, both corners of her grin seem to end in knife points. Incisions where dimples should sit.

I fiddle with my hair. Finally meet my own dark eyes in mirrored glass. Take stock of the darker blood vessels weighing them down.

“Sleep well, Thana?” Mary appears at my side, twirling her cleaver the way I twirl my hair. Both gleam silver.

“You should know.” I shake my head. Ignore my gaze. Pull my hair back, slipping the black band ’round my wrist around it. A ponytail will do.

Mary laughs from her ruddy belly and I step back from the mirror. A hand without a cleaver but with red caked under its chewed-down fingernails reaches for me before I get far. I whirl on it. They shouldn’t touch. Nana’s voice in my ears. Mary knows my rules. The rules, Nana corrects in my head.

Mary–”

“Your feather.” She cuts me off. Hesitantly, not taking my eyes from the ones Mary lacks, I run my fingers through my tail of hair. Towards the end, brush something thin and silky. My gift.

Not turning my back on Mary again, I walk to the window, still wide open. Sill empty. A faint breeze unsettles the curtains. Fog creeps across the lawn outside, nearly the same shade as the stones embedded halfway in green. Nearly the same grey as Mary. A deeper hue flutters across. Then another. Crows for sure. A raven, maybe.

Deep in the fog, on the cusp of where green almost vanishes entirely, devoured, a dark form. Unmoving. A living shadow. Not a bird. Reaper. The long staff of a scythe juts from the form, its bladed head only a vague impression from this distance. But I know it’s there. Have heard the swish of it, echoing across night. Off stone.

Necromancers and Reapers came to an understanding–a compromise–long ago. Keeps us peaceful. The Underworld in check. Oft, we live close. Territories not shared but brushing each other. It’s good to have a Reaper on hand. In our line of work. ‘Case something won’t go south, as Nana would say.

This particular Reaper’s been a little too close for comfort, though. Almost pacing the boundary where our haunts meet these past few nights. Now lingering as day awakes.

I finger the feather in my hair again. So soft. Corvids have coarse coats. Like armor.

“Thana?” I look at Mary, dragging my hand from my hair. “The time.” She motions with her cleaver to the clock. I release a curse.

Quickly, I shut the window–deal with that later–and toe on my boots. Shrug on my jacket. Pat my pockets for my keys. Glance one last time at the mirror.

“I look good?”

“As good as always.” Mary chimes. Then, so does the clock. Again, I curse.

“Stay out of trouble.” I call over my shoulder as I open the door.

“If you do the same.” A breathy, almost-whisper.

Before I can pull the door shut, a gust from within does it for me. Then, brass tumblers click into place. I lower my key.

I will. I’ll try.

No time to linger, I hurry away from what looks like your typical, neglibile, cemetery grounds shed. Hurry away from the fog. Away from living shadows that have some reason to be pacing borders they usually overlook. Some reason to be leaving peace offerings for living dead girls.

fullsizerender-1

Decided to keep writing this. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tagged: Bot Prompts, netnarr, side project

A Feel Good Story…?

Who doesn’t squeal at the sight of cute, baby animals? Wait… The lambs are screaming? The baby sheep? Why? What could possibly…. Oh. Oh. 

silence-of-the-lambs-new-cover

Am I safe to assume that we’ve all read and/or seen this classic? With Anthony Hopkins? ClariceQuid pro quoIt puts the lotion on the skin. We all on the same page? Understand why this book cover is a little deceiving? Misleading? Toeing the not-so-thin line of outright lying?

Anyway…

I made this less-than-honest cover in Photoshop, using what little knowledge remains from some high school computer art and graphic design courses. Nothing really fancy was done. Just some cropping and resizing. Cutting and pasting. A mask here. A filter or several there. Mainly, I adjusted the contrast–to give it a kind of soft focus. Light and airy. Left a slight streak of red in the upper right-hand corner, though. A hint. There’s a very gentle touch of red on the lambs, as well. It’s kind of alchemy–the magic of subtlety. Things that can be gleaned by keen eyes. The story piecer-togethers.

Hope this gave you a chuckle. A snort. Maybe, an amused smile? I try. Don’t have to try too hard with the fun exercises though. Those tend to draw their own laughs ^.^


Tagged: altbookcover, books, netnarr, Networked Narratives, silence of the lambs

A Feel Good Story…?

Who doesn’t squeal at the sight of cute, baby animals? Wait… The lambs are screaming? The baby sheep? Why? What could possibly…. Oh. Oh. 

silence-of-the-lambs-new-cover

Am I safe to assume that we’ve all read and/or seen this classic? With Anthony Hopkins? ClariceQuid pro quoIt puts the lotion on the skin. We all on the same page? Understand why this book cover is a little deceiving? Misleading? Toeing the not-so-thin line of outright lying?

Anyway…

I made this less-than-honest cover in Photoshop, using what little knowledge remains from some high school computer art and graphic design courses. Nothing really fancy was done. Just some cropping and resizing. Cutting and pasting. A mask here. A filter or several there. Mainly, I adjusted the contrast–to give it a kind of soft focus. Light and airy. Left a slight streak of red in the upper right-hand corner, though. A hint. There’s a very gentle touch of red on the lambs, as well. It’s kind of alchemy–the magic of subtlety. Things that can be gleaned by keen eyes. The story piecer-togethers.

Hope this gave you a chuckle. A snort. Maybe, an amused smile? I try. Don’t have to try too hard with the fun exercises though. Those tend to draw their own laughs ^.^


Tagged: altbookcover, books, netnarr, Networked Narratives, silence of the lambs