Tag Archives: storytelling

Writer In Motion | Week 0: This is Familiar

So when I woke up this morning, I didn’t expect to join a month+ long writing project, but here we are. I think I looked at the site for Writer In Motion for about 3 seconds before I decided, “yeah, this seems relatively manageable during these Stressful Trying Times; I’m in.” (Nyoom over there or to WIM’s Twitter to check out the details for the project.)

Please, @ the world, let this be the moment where I get out of the writer’s funk I’ve been in since May. (Note: not block. funk. i have story ideas. many daydreams’ and notebook app pages’ worth. actual writing tho? idk her.)

So anyway. The prompt dropped yesterday, August 1st, so I’m a day behind in terms of brainstorming for this lovely image:

brown concrete house on green grass field near mountain during daytime
Photo by Rahul Pandit on Unsplash.

And golly gee did I grin when I saw it.

Note: below is a lot of rambling about lighting and themes of isolation and visual/physical storytelling elements of video games. Feel free to skip down to the “tl;dr”–don’t worry I won’t be mad.

Maybe it’s just the fact that I’ve written via picture prompts in recent years and some of my favorite little original stories (1) (2) have come out of them that has me giddy.

Or it’s the vibe of the picture itself. That golden hour light and isolated feel (#mood).

Or it just reminds me of the recent vids of some YouTubers I watch: Julien Solomita and Unus Annus (if you’re reading this after 11/15/20 and the link is broken or leads to nowhere, oops you’re too late, sorry friend). In both of those vids, the YouTubers went out in the middle of the desert to film, but created their own little… “pockets” (that keeps coming to mind) of familiar and safe space to… do what they gotta do. Whether it’s looking at stars, extreme horseshoe, or cooking pad thai.

I mean, Julien’s AirBnB looks just like the one in the prompt pic above.

Kinda.

Idk they’re both boxes.

… I could probably elaborate on that as a theme. Were someone to be staying in that concrete box of a shack on the top of a hill/mountain in the forest… is it for deliberate isolation purposes, comfort, safety for that person, safety for others? How does that person feel about their predicament? Is it even a predicament? … Is there even a person there?

Nah, I’m making a person be there, probably. But I like the idea of someone being like… in hiding there. And the reader isn’t explicitly told why and just has to infer.

In that way, it feels like what’s playing out in this setting is the epilogue of something big that happened, and the reader has to piece it together from the lingering effects of that big thing.

That’s also a really cool vibe to portray. You kinda see it in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in the sense that “a big thing happened 100 years ago and you’ve been asleep all that time so here, go forth in the aftermath of what happened. here’s what was left behind.”

Only the game tells you what the big thing was but there were sometimes random parts of the open-world map where there were just random ruins of a stable or village or fort and it just leaves you to wonder what happened exactly here even though you know about the Calamity but like what specifically here–

Am I rambling? I feel like I’m–

Oh my god wait it reminds me of Firewatch, too. I MEAN. LOOK AT THIS.

[9/6 edit: i bought the game, she was on sale for like $5 ayyyy]

THAT LIGHTING. THE ISOLATION. THE SINGLE MEANS OF COMMUNICATION.

The prompt pic could literally be a screencap from the game, wow.

Okay. I think that’s about enough for an initial post.

So tl;dr someone is living in that shack in isolation because of a Big Thing that happened in the past and this is the aftermath. And golden hour will probably be a pivotal time or element. Because I’m a sucker for good lighting and proceeding sunsets are pretty.

OKAY, NOW I’M DONE.

See y’all next week with a draft!

–CM

Skin Girl

Drumbeat batters breeze bare-knuckled. Bloody, if it could. Tut-tut-tut transforms the atmosphere into something tormented. Tortured. Just a sliver shy of a scream.

I sway to the sound, skin soaking in its scathe. Absorbing the maim and claim. The tug and tear.

In the thick of the crowd, illuminated by a mix of fire and faint moonlight, a figure fights the drum’s beating. Twists sharp turns to thwart possession. To prevail. A losing game.

Once lured in, that’s it.

Other figures clap, pound flesh till the night seems alive with its own rhythmic pulse, thrumming steadily through the battered air. A grunted chant rumbles in time.

Somewhere, deep in the wood surround, a wolf howls. Tears at night’s skin. A territorial call if I’ve ever heard one. A victorious brag. I grip the skin I’m in. Tame growl into grumbling chant. Return sight to the light bathing those gathered in shades of dark red.

The dancer nearest flame, so deeply red they’re shadow on smoke, throws back their head–theirs and the bear skull that swallows it whole. An echoing, bellicose bellow–growl–silences both flesh and drum beat.

Another deep sound, the wolf.

A last, me.

For now.

Closely, I watch the dancer shed the bear skull. Slide claws as long as fingers from their hands. Keep the grizzled pelt wrapped ’round their wide shoulders, though. For warmth, maybe. The skin in place ’round their meaty waist.

Two figures donning wolf skulls and matching hides separate from the crowd as the lone bear dancer returns to it.

Beats begin their battering blows once more. Less heavy. More lean. Like wolf meat. Night’s pulse picks up in a low thrum, a lower hum. Faintest scream.

I track the bear dancer as they cut through the crowd, one toothy smile at a time. A short laugh or two. My rhythm mirrors theirs. Overtakes it. Sleek. Light. A slow skulk. Steady hunt.

We meet where the edge of the crowd kisses forest fathoms.

Bear Dancer slashes a charming smile across their face, distinctive jaw jutting upward with its self-assured slant as if to display the many scars crisscrossing sensitive skin like trophies. One rather deep cut is still raw. Fresh. I curl my fist.

It’s him.

A grin of my own begins to stretch flesh. Tempt tearing. Bear dancer’s widens in return. Devours his face.

“Hello,” he steps into my sway. “Like tonight?” I nod, grin sharp enough to put Bear Dancer to shame.

“You dance good.” Another growl tamed into something softer. “It’s striking,” I motion to the pelt on his back. “your form.”

“Yes.” He preens, fingering the fur. I swallow fury. “A lucky catch, bear. Usually, they keep to their caves.”

“Ah?” I drag him back to me. “Where’d you get the bear then?”

“Clearing by Slim River.” His voice is proud. “Mama and cub hunting. Hare, probably. I got Mama first in the side with my spear. When she charged, I got her in the head with my handy ax. She clawed, though.” He taps his scarred chin. “A fighter.”

Huntress.” I correct.

“Yes.” Bear Dancer nods, looking grave. “Very fierce. The others threw many spears till she went down. The cub though,” Bear Dancer’s grin returns. “was easy. Little fella. A club to the head.” Bear Dancer swings his arm past my face. “Dead.”

“Dead.” I repeat, dead, stepping back into forest, spiny nettles brushing bare skin. Swirl my hips. Bear dancer follows. “Poor boy.”

“There were two.” He leans close as if revealing a secret. “Cubs. Two of ’em. Always with Mama but not this time. Very odd.” He quirks his head. “Bears don’t usually keep more than one. Too hard to feed. Keep only the strong one…. Wonder where the runt is? The little fella cried out after he was hit. Almost like a scream. Maybe–”

She heard.” I finish with too much gnash. “The sister?” Bear dancer gives me a confused look and I reach for his hands–the ones that were wearing Mama bear’s claws–settling them on my waist.

“Yes.” Bear dancer tightens his hold on me. I lead us further behind branches. Beyond the fire light’s creeping reach. “You know the story?” Now, I quirk my head. Take another backward step. “About the sister cub. That she’s one of us. Child lost from the tribe long ago. Found by bears. Clothed in their skin.”

“I hadn’t heard.” Another step. So close.

“Not from ’round here?” Bear Dancer asks. “Was wondering…. You look familiar but can’t place face.”

Finally. Trees give way to open space. A clearing. Nearby, a watery babble replaces drum beats. Flesh beats. Moonlight overtakes flickering flame.

“It’s not my usual.” I brush Bear Dancer’s hands off me and he tilts his chin. That fresh cut. Shiny red beneath the moon. I flex my fingers. Feel nails sharpen. “Face.”

A swipe of my claw to the head and Bear Dancer is down. For brother.

I’m on him before he knows what hit him, my lithe body now heavier. My skin, fur. Much better. Weight settles on my shoulders–my skull no prop large enough to swallow a head whole. Bear Dancer’s. I stare into his wide eyes, grizzly reflection in their glisten. I can’t smile anymore so a snarl will have to do. Recognize me now?

“S-s-skin-n-w-w-wwalk-ker-r.” He accuses.

No, a growl like a laugh rumbles in my cavernous chest. I told you. Huntress. 

A claw finds purchase in the mark Mama carved so I’d know and tugs. Jaw gone before Bear Dancer can scream. Then, claws like little spears and teeth like ax blades find flesh. Tear. Bite bone, too, creating their own beat, own chant. Rhythm.

And, when the song is done, I toss my head back. ScreamTear the night in two. It’s no victory screech. No brag. Nothing celebatory. It’s a warning. An announcement.

I’m here.

I’m coming.

I’m hungry.

The battle is mine.

****

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*Side note: those last words are coincidentally my first thoughts in the morning…. Weird. ^.^

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Find more of my delightfully disturbing/twisted tales under the Killing It tag~

As always, hope you enjoyed~*