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#WIM Summer ’21 | Week… 2? 3?: i can explain–

Firstly of all. Hello I missed a week. Long story. Busy week. Then another busy week. And now here I am, having finally clawed my way to google docs to spew out… This. Below is actually my self-edit. Or. Self-finally-finished-draft. I kid you not I just sent my CPs this draft 10 minutes ago. Biggest apologies to them. Because wow, yikes.

I mentioned this on Twitter, but my draft ended up coming to around 2469 words (heheh nice) but then I shaved it to 2400. Not unlike me, as my last WIM story came to 1.3k I think? I’m very sorry, lol.

For now, I’ll leave you with this. Because I once again have to run. I’ll update this later, hopefully, with more thoughts. But! As I mentioned to my CPs, there was a point around the 1k mark that actually made for a decent pause, whereas the whole draft would become a part 1 and part 2 type deal. So I’ll mark that, and no pressure to suffer through the whole thing, considering the second half is pretty rushed and there’s some illogical bits that I would equate to human error of my characters but yadda yadda yadda, here you go–


{title tbd}

There’s days when memories form like mist, even as you’re presently living them. You know this is a time that will stay with you, whether you would have it or not.

Sometimes it’s a forgotten tattoo that peeks out of your sleeve and makes you jump.

Sometimes its presence lingers, cloying, weighted–a thick salve along your skin you can’t ignore.

Altogether, regardless, it’s there.

In whatever form it chooses, outside of your control.

Fog rolled in on the first day of my new job. My car crawled through the buzzing gate of the research center, headlights switched off in the dim midmorning haze. 

I’d found the listing online, a shining ad of white marble and walking lab coats tucked between forager haul clips and indie band announcements. Needless to say, it wasn’t my schtick, but it paid well. Plus, it was a botanical research center, and I liked plants well enough.

“You seem to have the desired level of knowledge for this position,” the head researcher, Dr. Kent had said over the phone. Odd phrasing, but alright, I recalled thinking. “Report on the fifth at ten o’clock for training.”

And I did. It wasn’t much change from my past reception positions–less books on the wall, no wafted scent of brewing artisanal coffees, an unfortunate lack of tattoo flash sheets littering the desk. Overall, the expanse of my work area–a carbon copy of the ad I’d seen–was remarkably unstimulating. 

I let out a long sigh. 

“Something on your mind?” 

I turned, eying the intern also stationed at the desk with me. Shaggy dark hair, lab coat, tap tap tapping away at an email.

“Truthfully, nothing at all,” I supplied. “It’s like my brain’s been wiped clean along with the rest of this place.”

The intern huffed a laugh, short through the nose with a twitch of the shoulders. 

“Thought this was a botany place, too. Where are the plants?”

The intern gave me a pitying smile. “Well, they’re all inside being peeled apart and put back together again.”

The tap tap tapping resumed, and I sat back in my office chair that suddenly felt a few shades less than comfortable.

There was a mug in front of my face, steaming into the air where it sat on the partition sill between the desk and the spotless lobby. I blinked, focusing on the chipped toadstool pattern along the bottom, the handle resembling a gnarled branch, then to its owner.

The intern, who I learned leveled up to full time lab assistant the previous week, beamed bright, tapping a knuckle on the sill. “Let’s not lose you now.”

I hung my head for a moment. “Am I that obvious, lab rat?”

The click of a tongue and a pinched brow. “You look about half dead behind that desk. Don’t let Kent catch you sleeping.”

I straightened up in my chair, peeking around for the doctor theatrically. It drew a chuckle out of the lab assistant. I called that a win.

Taking the mug in hand–it was decent-smelling, and actually hot–I smirked. “I like to think I’m actually on Dr. Kent’s good side.”

Lab Rat snorts, waving a hand and walking off. “If you say so.”

I shook my head and took a sip, wincing at the lack of sugar. 

It was as I was driving home that I realized the mug was exactly something I’d buy for myself, chipped shrooms and all.

“You’re not stalking me, are you?”

Lab Rat paused chewing and squinted. “We literally eat together every day, what’s the problem?”

I sat up from where I was crouched over my untouched sandwich, coming back to myself in a way. I shook my head. “Yeah, sorry. I don’t know where that came from. I was just– Remember the mug?”

“The mug.”

“With the toadstools.”

“Ah.” A nod. “The one you broke.”

I winced. “I am once again very sorry.”

Gentle kicks to my shin under the rickety breakroom table. “What about the mug?”

“How’d you know to give me that one?”

Long, drawn-out blinks. “‘How’?”

“Yeah,” I accused, holding up and shaking my sandwich half-threateningly. “How, ya stalker?”

Lab Rat went cross-eyed watching the sandwich, then nudged it away with a frown. “I’m observant.”

“That’s something a serial killer says.”

A snort, blocked by a hand with far too many rings. “Oh my god, you have frog pins on your bag. It’s 1+1. What is the problem?”

“Oh.” I shifted in my chair. “Oh, right.”

“Seriously, are you good?”

“Yeah, just… brain fog.”

“Ah. Mm.”

Moments passed. A coworker stepped in, warning of a Kent rampage, to which Lab Rat groaned.

“That’s my cue. We still good for tonight? Sorry I cancelled last week, Kent was up my ass about a deadline.”

“Yep. It’s chill. What was the movie again?”

A plaintive stare from the doorway. “Please don’t look it up and spoil yourself.”

“Come on, I know it was like… Paramore-something.”

“It wasn’t, but okay.” Lab Rat steps out, only to step back in again. “About before… If you ever need to–”

“–talk about anything–I know, I know,” I interrupted, bobbing my head dramatically. I stopped, made eye contact. “Thanks, though.”

Lab Rat tapped the door frame. “Anytime.”

The soil-smudged papers littering my kitchen table were getting far less legible lately, not that I could ever really understand them to begin with. It didn’t help that a whole Lab Rat was collapsed over half of them, crumpling them beyond saving. Light snores and the ceiling fan above rustled the pages. Dinner sat cold on the kitchen island where I’d left it hours prior. Wisps of smoke trailed from the wicks of the aromatherapy candles I’d just snuffed out. The hall clock read 3 AM.

I sighed and reached down to tuck a tangle of hair away. “C’mon, babe. You’ve been at this for days. Sleep in a real bed, yeah?”

Lab Rat sat up slowly, head lolling back. “But–”

I leaned close, peering under bangs and half-hooded eyes. “Breakthroughs come to those who knock out when their girlfriends tell them to.”

The light, jerky twitches of a sleep-drunk giggle. “That’s not a thing.”

“I’m making it a thing.” I tried for a smile, but it fell too soon. I drummed a little beat on the table to wake us both up. “Come on, baby, you’re all peeled apart. Let’s put you back together again.”

[Author’s note: here’s where the 1k mark is!]

I’d heard of the term haunted for an expression on a person’s face before, but I’d never seen it. 

When Lab Rat met me in the back stairwell–the place we’d been rendezvousing for our shared lunches for months now–the only word I could use for that face was haunted.

We sat and ate in silence. I waited, because it worked like that between us sometimes. 

I cleared my throat. Lab Rat jumped, a container of grapes tumbling down the stairs with a rhythmic clatter. We stared after it, but when I looked back–

“Oh my god, babe, you’re crying.”

Bare, ringless fingers prodded at wet cheeks. “Am I?” 

And just like that, we broke together. I’d always been a sympathetic crier.

Our lunches stopped after that. Our messages and sleepovers stopped after that. Our overall togetherness stopped after that.

I counted the days since we saw each other, but quit that quick after the mere glance at a calendar made my eyes mist and blur.

Lab Rat had a car, and it never left the parking lot. It was there when I arrived early mornings and there when I left late nights.

I did my desk work because I needed to, even though it felt useless in the grand scheme of things. All the while I waited for a chipped mug to be put in front of my nose, its contents equal parts sweet and bitter now.

Don’t you remember? a small voice in my head sneered. It’s broken now. 

And you have no idea why.

“Hello sweetheart. Don’t worry about me, and don’t wait up for me,” the note left on my desk read.

“Everything’s fine. Kent has me on a project that’s more than I’m used to, but I’ll manage,” read the next line.

“Let’s get lunch one day soon, alright?” requested the next.

“Please take care,” it finished, signed with a heart.

I took the next week off with the PTO I had saved, under the guise of visiting family out west. 

There was a cafe we frequented, and I set up camp–aka a busted laptop armed with bootleg anime sites and adblock–at one of the shaded tables every day. Lab Rat may be the smart one, but I could read between the lines once in a while.

Thursday came and almost went before that old Prius finally rolled up, and out came my walking labcoat. 

At the side entrance closest to my table, I pounced, pulling us to the alley beside the cafe before any shocked yelp could be made.

“Oh, thank god,” Lab Rat exhaled, all but deflating in my arms. “You can read.”

I squeezed tight, giving a watery chuckle. I would’ve bantered back, but– “What the fuck is going on? Where have you been?”

Shuffling feet and stricken gaze. “It’s… It’s a lot. I don’t know how much I can tell you so you’ll be safe. And I can’t stay long, Kent–”

“Cunt, more like,” I hissed.

“Shush… but correct. He’s pretty much timing how long I can go out. He trusts me, but not enough.”

I clasped our hands together. “Tell me. Everything.”

Lab Rat’s sigh was all-encompassing. I felt it in my own lungs. “You know my cross-pollination project?”

I nodded.

“I was going for allergy-reduction or mental health relaxants… I got bio-weapon.”

I blinked. “Excuse me?”

“Like, straight-to-your-brain fucks you up. I’m still not sure how bad it can get. TL;DR, babydoll, Kent wants me to sell to the military. Either I do that, or he’s outing me as some kind of… spy? I don’t know. The preliminary published research–all that shit I had in your kitchen–it’s already under my name. He has to go through me. Remember that day in the stairwell?” I nodded again. “That was the day he… proposed this ultimatum. After testing on mice.”

I sputtered. “Botanical research center? Animal testing? For real?”

“I know, I–” Lab Rat’s–Ah, what irony, I thought.–watch beeped. “I don’t have time. I have to go.”

My grip tightens. “But–”

“He’s trusting me more. Be patient. I’ll be home soon.” The confidence melts to hesitation. “I… I don’t know what else to do other than play along.”

“We’ll figure it out. We will.”

A smile. Fingers tangled in the hair at the nape of my neck, tapped a rhythm against my skull. 

“I hope so.”

Kent, it seemed, didn’t trust easy. Three weeks passed before Lab Rat slept at my place again. Well. Not much sleep, but that’s besides the point.

“So what do we do?” said to my bedroom ceiling in the humid haze of Sunday morning.

The shift of sheets in a shrug. “Nothing to do, I think.”

I sat up. “You want to let this happen?”

“Of course not.”

“Then…?”

Silence thickened the air. It was visible. Dense. Choking.

Lab Rat rolled over, facing the wall practically wallpapered with little cards of KPOP idols. A shrine built up over the months we’d been together. It started as a joke. 

Nothing felt funny anymore.

The first mistake was bringing the research home again. 

For a smart person, Lab Rat sure had dumbass moments. 

No wonder it took Kent months to trust. He never thought of having to trust me, though.

The second mistake–though I would call it a saving grace–was the development of a counteractive. An antidote. 

The third mistake–I was good at following directions, better at defying them.

Flashes, then. Of Lab Rat asleep for the first time in days. Of driving to the center at dawn. Of rows of plants I’d never seen before. Of masks. Of Kent’s face twisted in wrinkled confusion. “You wanted to test it, right, sir?” Of flowers. Of smoke. “How’s my level of knowledge now?” Of burning. Burning soil. Burning labcoats. Burning roses. Peeled apart and back together. Was that it? Was that all? What else was this made of? I’d barely read, only followed. Flames lick at my boots. I’d started that, hadn’t I? Poppies? What did they do? What was the chemical makeup of chrysanthemum pollen–? My Lab Rat would know– My–

“What are you doing?!”

My head floats around on its own, and I smile through the smoke. There you are. But I frown, then. “I wanted you to sleep more…”

“What?!” Wild, watering eyes and sudden, hacking coughs. “Fuck. I never tested with people, babe, get out of there!” 

There was the crackling of plaster, of marble, of everything. Of course I wouldn’t be heard. 

I reach up, unhitch the clasp of the mask I’d made. Smoke–mist–fog billowed; I couldn’t tell in or out, which way any of it went. Only that my Lab Rat was barrelling towards me, and I couldn’t be happier. I reached out my arms–

And it all came crashing down.

You twitch awake, and it’s all there in a flash–everything you ever wanted to know. You reach out, on reflex, to clasp the remains of the dream. But it’s gone as soon as it was there. Popped like a bubble with the lightest touch and tension.

You stare at the blank dark in wordless frustration. Everything. All of it. Gone. Nothing. Again.

Again.

A gentle snuffle sounds beside you. Dim stripes of moonlight fall through slatted shutters and rest quietly across your bed. That’s right. She’s begun to stay more often in your little shack in the wilderness. She stays nights, but leaves early mornings for work, so it’s rare to wake up beside her. 

“Wha’s wrong?” she says, groggy, fingers prodding searchingly across the bed. Her eyes are barely open. “‘vrythin’ okay?”

Moments pass, hanging still while you dig and search and try to remember it all. Try to remember her. It’s useless, as usual, no matter how many times this happens. 

You sigh and let her find your hand where it’s tangled under the sheets. She squeezes with languid sleep-muddled strength, then goes lax.

“Yeah,” you say to her. “Yeah,” you say to yourself. “It’s just warm in here.”

On instinct, you tap at her palm a few times, before allowing yourself to drift away once again.


And bing bang boom, there she is.

What a monster.

Despite how this draft is turning out, I kinda love my characters (who I have names for but affectionately call CottageCore and Science/LabRat) and I’m going to definitely keep working on expanding this world. Anyway.

Hope you enjoyed!

–CM

Smile Back :)

The universe is made of mouths. Not circles or loops or any other illusions of organization, of control. Just many hungry, gaping maws demanding flesh and blood, promising peace in exchange for a paltry sum of pain. A clear message. At least, clear for those who can read in between the stars like my Mama.

They believe it’s empty out there. Mama would say, dark eyes on the darkening sky. We spent most nights together beneath the stars, awaiting their wishes. Just empty space.

Mama kept her gaze aloft but shook her head. I copied the movement, memorizing her proud posture, making her disbelief my own. Mama sometimes called me her tiny mirror, more often her little echo. 

But nothing is empty. Mama would continue, finally looking from the sky to fix her sharp sights on me. She’d slip into a low crouch so our eyes could meet, our fingers find each other and twine together. Nothing, my little echo, is empty. There is only fullness and hunger. The universe and us.

That was when Mama would untwine our hands and slide out the knife she always kept strapped to her side. It gleamed in the starlight, transformed into a tooth, point terribly true. She would press the blade to the palm of her hand till blood kissed the tip and trickled down the edge, crimson ink till shadows swallowed the hue whole. An offering. A message.

Around us, the night seemed to shudder, darkness undulating like a thousand licking tongues, the stars high above burning in their sockets, ecstatic. A sigh escaped the sky. Or, maybe that was Mama. 

We must feed each other. Mama placed the knife in one of my hands, positioned it’s shiny point on the palm of the other. Made me her tiny mirror. The universe and us. You and I.

You and I. I echoed, blade biting into my flesh, blood dripping down it’s face like drool, devoured by the dark. You and I.

Mama lives between the stars now, a message only I can read. A mouth only I can feed. Her knife fills the hollow of my hand, its tip trusty and true. A promise, sharp and clear. 

There is no empty space.

Above me, the night splits into a smile.

I smile back.

***

Just a short & sweet story this week ^.^ Hope you enjoyed! This story was inspired by a prompt titled A message from afar. I think this story came off as more whimsical and a bit bittersweet than spooky but I really had a lot of fun turning my gaze towards the stars for this one~

The Night Is Hungry

Tonight, wind batters the brittle panes of my hovel’s weary windows. Had they been skin instead of glass, they’d no doubt be bruised. This high in the mountains, the winds are wicked. They drag drifts of snow with them, freezing the air till it’s very touch is painful. On nights like these, it feels like the dark is trying to rip and tear its way inside. Even the ferociously flickering flame in our lone hearth is not enough to protect against such a relentless, bitter chill. 

The holes in the walls don’t help. 

The gaps may be nothing but pesky slivers between wooden slats during the day, allowing a whisper of wind to wander through, but at night, they became slashes, severing any hopes for a warm home in two. Wind wails though the empty spaces, spits bits of ice in your face.

When I was younger, I remember musing how much the jagged lines in the slats resemble teeth marks. It looked like something was gnawing on our walls, like something had tried to take a bite out of the place. 

Baba laughed when I told her that, her own teeth gleaming in her smile. The rows of teeth she wore on several strings around her neck seemed to gleam in tandem in the fire’s glow. Baba never liked to wander too far from her cooking pot, seated firmly in the fiery mouth of our home. Unless she was going out to find dinner, of course.

A bite? Baba asked, smile still sharp. From what, my child?

The night. I said, then, like it was obvious. The night must be hungry.

Baba’s smile stretched across her face. Too wide, I’d realize too late. Her face, like the walls, should’ve split in two. Wrinkles cut her face into fleshy shards, deep divots marking her dimples. Even the fire’s flickering stretched her shadow into odd points.

Indeed, my child. Baba said at last, raising a veiny hand to finger one of the teeth wound around her throat. Their strings sunk into the loose flesh there, deep into its creases, making the teeth appear almost to grow out of her neck, as if Baba herself were one giant gaping mouth. The night is hungry. 

Baba gripped the long handle of her slightly scorched ladle then, swirling the contents of her cooking pot. They clacked against the cast iron, a hollow sound easily muffled by the wind. A splash of broth overtook the lip and dribbled down the side. At my feet, a tooth fell.

And so are we. Baba swirled the ladle, side to side. So very hungry.

Now, I stand before Baba’s cooking pot, ladle in hand. The wood has gone from slightly scorched to nearly charred, parts of it chipping off in places, splinters biting into flesh. 

But, it still does the job it needs to do.

Around my neck, several strings of teeth hang, a particularly gleaming set hanging on the lowest tier rests just above my heart. When I look down, they smile up at me.

A brutal gust slams into the shack then, rattling the windows and the rickety walls and shrieking unsorry through the empty spaces. Snow catches and clings to the rough edges, dripping like drool from a jagged mouth. Like blood, when it catches the fire’s heated glare. 

It is a mean night on the mountain.

It reminds me of the night Baba found me. Wading through waist-deep snow drifts and wailing against the wind’s screams for anyone at all to help. To help me and my baby sister, swaddled in my arms as I tried to keep both our heads aloft the piling snow, our faces tucked away from the air’s frigid assault. It was a fruitless effort. We were going to die. Like mother and father did when our cabin’s walls caved in, burying them beneath a life that seemed so meager and empty until it fell on top of them.

Baba slithered out of the darkness just as the snow was starting to swallow us whole. I was trying to raise my baby sister above my head, to keep the snow from encasing her like it had me from the chest down. It was that movement, which finally disturbed her rest and it was her cries, somehow, that summoned Baba. It wouldn’t be until much later that I would wonder at how Baba could’ve possibly heard my sister’s whining over the wind. At the time, I didn’t know to be wary of the things attracted to the cries of wounded creatures.

What do you need? Baba asked as she neared, her body except for her wrinkly old woman face hidden beneath a thick cloak. The night swallowed most of her finer features save for a slight smile that might’ve bothered me more had I not been freezing to death.

Help. I begged, teeth starting to chatter. We n-need h-hel-lp.

But, Baba shook her head. Stretched her smile.

No. She leaned in, the lines carving across her face becoming more pronounced, the gleam of her smile more glaring. What do you need?

I started shaking my own head, not sure what she meant and so very, very cold. In my gums, I swear I could feel my teeth shivering, each tooth clacking against its neighbor in my jaw. In my head, I could hear the echo, a soft pounding sound. Or, maybe that was my heart, slowly freezing in my chest. While the wind seemed to quiet and the weather settle at Baba’s appearance, I was still buried almost to my neck in snow. From all sides, I could feel the press. It was a soft bite but the pressure would grow. I thought of mother and father, buried—no, eaten by the mountain. Swallowed by the night. 

We should’ve left sooner. We should’ve let go.

A cruel chill crept over me.

I looked toward my sister then, raised like an offering above my head, and I felt the full weight of her for the first time. Felt the weight our meager home tried to hold. And, I felt the press of something not against me but from within. Something sharp. I heard a crack—possibly a tooth, perhaps another cabin collapsing in the distance, or maybe my frozen heart finally splitting—and then I felt nothing much at all. I should let go.

I looked at Baba, who was all teeth.

I need to let go.

My mouth wouldn’t open, wouldn’t speak the words, but Baba seemed to know what I had decided without me having to spit it out. She reached for the bundle in my arms, took it from me almost reverently as if she, too, could feel its true weight, its burden. She cradled the bundle with one arm and with the other, she pulled me from the snow in one steady, practiced motion. As if I were not the first child she pried from the mountain’s maw. 

Baba tsked at my bony wrist in her grip.

My child, Baba said, digging her nails into my icy skin, their points almost biting through. We need some meat on these bones. 

Some meat, Baba said, the bundle I gave her tucked out of sight. 

I never saw my sister again. 

Not whole, at least.

Since then, mean nights on the mountain have always made me hungry. I hear my own screams in the wind, feel each snowflake on my skin like a tooth sinking in, a dug-in nail demanding blood. I no longer sit in the shadow of a shut mouth waiting to be swallowed. I am a mouth. I must fill myself.

Outside, a cry joins the wind. Small, familiar. Wounded and needy.

I run my hand along one of the rows of tiny teeth strung around my neck, finger the smooth edges. Boiled water in a cast iron pot will polish anything if you let it soak long enough. Baba taught me that well.

Baba made sure I could do what I needed to.

The water begins to boil as the cries tear out of the dark and bleed through the walls. Another gust carries a whimper, offering anything to be spared and I smile with all my teeth.

The night is hungry.

****

Hey~ So… I started up grad school again for the fall and it has been a LOT to manage hence the delayed posting schedule. Honestly, I’ve hade barely any time to think let alone write a spooky story. That said, this story is inspired by the Russian folklore figure, Baba Yaga. I’ve always found her to be a more plausible monster than most. Especially when I think of the cycles of starvation that occurred in Eastern Europe during different points of history, I find a Baba Yaga-esque figure to be all the more plausible and, because of that, more chilling. I wanted to explore the becoming of such a being in this work.

Hope you enjoyed~

Thesis Intro

Hello everyone!  Let me take a moment to say just how happy I am that the semester is starting up again!  The time off from our journey was nice, but I am more than ready to get back to it.  I’ve been working like crazy all summer long, so to have a chance to get back into my studies and focus on something such as preparing and writing my thesis is something that definitely excites me a whole lot.  Additionally, I genuinely look forward to seeing how each one of my classmates progress in their own thesis journey, as I feel our group is special in that we are constantly bringing out the best in each other.  

For my thesis, I am actually going to pursue work I have done in a previous class.  For those who were in the Networked Narratives last semester with Dr. Zamora and Professor Alan Levine, I am going to take the story outline we worked on as the final project and work to write the story in its entirety as a novel.  In that class, I really felt myself begin to blossom as a creative type, and the prospects of exploring this further truly excites me.  It is a work that ties in the pandemic and the scary realities of where our society is headed in terms of technology and this idea of surveillance capital (if you know, you know.)  

The task at hand is certainly daunting, but I welcome the challenge and the work that this is going to be.  I look forward to working with everybody in such a manner that will elevate each of our ideas into truly special, valuable work.  

Writer In Motion | Week 3: I am an Adult™ who Can take criticism and only cry for 5 minutes

IT IS A JOKE, I PROMISE. I DIDN’T CRY. PINKY PROMISE I DID NOT.

I am also very late, and I apologize for that.

Suddenly I had Social Plans like every day this week and it’s been a While so I forgot what prioritization of time was.

Anyway, shoutout to @BErixon and @gonzo_rhetoric for their feedback on my story. I really appreciate their critiques and compliments, and their stories are amazing pls go read them.

Here’s my updated draft! With a possible title! And new transition markers! And a kinda new interwoven cyclical theme kinda thing that might be too much! And a shifted scene!


[basis]

3 o’clock hour. 9 hours remain.

It’s warm in here.

It’s not pleasant, and it’s not awful, but it has its moments either way.

It just kinda… is. And that’s fine. You’re not complaining. It’s just a passing thought you have. And’ve had every day. For… 

You fidget on the rickety twin bed, roll over to face the cracked wall. You’ve had urges to start scratching out tallies to mark the days. But that would be a bit much, you think. Make this feel too much like a prison.

But, isn’t it?

With a huff, you spring up, take the few steps across the tiny room of this concrete box of a shack, and jack the fan up a couple notches. It groans with the strain, but the flow of air brings some new life to the room, enough to reassure you some.

This isn’t your prison. It’s your… safehouse? haven? refuge? Those seem too heavy-handed. At least, to your knowledge. Anyway. You can breathe.

So you breathe. Glance around at what you do have. The necessities: bed, minifridge, small bathroom to the back, table and two chairs, little bookshelf stuffed with Things to Entertain Yourself, the radio where she plugs in her…

You blink, skitter around on your bare feet, and check the light coming from the russet window shutters.

Oh.

The shutters are loud, when opened. It’s almost annoying, but you suppose it’s better than silence. (Just as light openly filling the space is better than even yellow slits, like bars.

Not a prison, you remind.)

You’ve had urges to keep them open, but let’s face it. You’re paranoid. 

And you hate bugs.

Suffice it to say, the hill your shack is seated on, surrounded sporadically by lush dark greens and pale yellows, is heavily and without fail stocked with bugs.

Hoisting yourself up onto the sill, you crane your neck to peer over the hill’s crest, at the downtrodden path your only visitor takes to get here.

She’s always on time, so it’s only a few seconds—(alright, half a minute)—before the wispy tufts of her short hair come into view. She’s frowning at her phone, but soon drops it into the big tote bag on her shoulder and looks up. Noticing you in the window, she waves, smiling.

“Hey!”

There’s always a firecracker that goes off between your ribs when she shows up. Makes your limbs jittery and useless. You can’t tell if you hate it or not as you raise a hand in greeting. 

Something buzzes near you, then, far too close to the tip of your nose. You lurch back with a squawk, recognizing the spindly lines of a mosquito, and tumble off the sill, knocking loudly into the side of your bed.

“Ow…” you groan, rubbing the ass cheek you landed on.

There’s the sound of running footsteps, shifting grass, and the door bangs open. She pants, staring down at you, concern in her wide eyes.

“Are you okay?” 

You exhale a laugh. “Yeah, I am. Just a bruise on my ass… and pride.”

Her concern melts to a smirk. “Well, good. Then I can laugh at you.” She then holds out the tote bag for you to take.

Getting to your feet, you scoff, but take the bag anyway. “Just… please tell me that you brought more bug spray. I’m dying out here.” You rummage through the bag, feel a familiar aerosol can, and shout triumphantly.

You douse the window in the stuff and toss the can onto your bed. The minifridge shuts and you look up. She’s shed the heavy green coat she always wears, thrown on the back of a chair, and is leaning against the minimal counter space of the kitchenette, munching on one of the pastries she brought the other day.

“That there’s why you run out all the time.” She gestures with the pastry, spewing crumbs from her mouth. “Spraying it all over the window…” Shaking her head, she takes another bite. It sounds crispy, flaky, and makes you want one, too.

Maybe later.

“It’s preventative,” you shoot back. “Keeps those nasty things out—” You gesture out the window. “—and this nasty thing safe in here.” You gesture to yourself with a flourish.

She snorts and rolls her eyes, but her smile is sincere. (You feel a lingering sizzle from that firecracker, all the way down to your toes. You like when she laughs. Better yet, you like when you’re the one to make it happen.)

“So, anyway,” she says, brushing crumbs off her hands and crossing her arms, “what’re we doing today?”

You look around your shack. To the shelf, the table, the tote bag with her laptop. 

“I have a few ideas,” you offer, and the intrigued look on her face tells you she likes the sound of that.

4 o’clock hour. 8 hours remain.

“Boring day, today, huh?”

You stretch your arms and legs out, taking up all the space you can on the blanket you had stored under your bed. (She brought it one day near the beginning, calling it “ours” offhand, but neither of you ever mentioned it again.) 

With a loud exhale, you go limp, your right arm and leg landing over hers. She giggles; you grin.

“Nothing boring about a picnic and some cloud gazing, man.”

She shifts, and you feel her hand ruffle your hair. “Nah, I guess not. You could’ve been out here without me, though. It’s a nice day.”

You shake your head, making a show of blowing your bangs back into place. “No, I don’t think I could’ve.”

You can feel her wanting to ask. Really ask. How are you doing? Well, you can’t really know for sure, can you? Considering you have nothing to base it on. 

(She asked What do you remember? the first few weeks, but has since stopped.)

With what feels like a cloud passing, she goes, “Ah, right. Bugs.”

You laugh, too quickly even to your own ears. “Yeah, bugs.”

The two of you stare at the sky for a while. 

6 o’clock hour. 6 hours remain.

Some new tune trickles from the tinny speaker of her phone. (She unplugged it from the radio before and is setting up a movie on her laptop. Some anime thing about firefighters she swears you loved. You weren’t sold until she told you about the homoerotic subtext.)

“What’s this?” you ask, sitting up a bit.

She turns, and it hits you that the sun’s gone down. It’s that exact time when the whole world glows—her included, flyaways lit up white. Some squishy, sappy smile spreads on your face, and the soft beats and acoustic lines amplify and diffuse into the surrounding air. You maybe feel a little drunk, enough that you miss her speaking.

“Huh?”

She clicks her teeth, amused. “I said it’s a new Zico track. You like?”

You lower back down to the blanket to hide the warmth in your cheeks—(firecracker embers)—and spread your limbs out again. 

The chorus repeats. It’s melancholy, but nice.

You sigh. “Yeah, I like.”

8 o’clock hour. 4 hours remain.

“Okay, that was way too long for CPR.”

“Right? Listen. They know what they did. They know who their target audience was.”

You laugh, bodily, almost keeling over while trying to fold up the blanket. “Studio Trigger said gay rights, huh?”

Silence draws out, and it takes you a second to notice she’s frozen still, looking at you intensely. You think so, at least. The sun set a while ago, so it’s hard to see.

“You… remembered the animation studio’s name?” 

Oh. “Oh.” You finish folding the blanket, slower than before. “Did… did you not mention it? Maybe yesterday you—”

“No, I don’t think I did.”

“Hmm.” There’s a pause, and it’s heavy. You kick at a pebble by your foot, eyes fixed to the dirt. “Before you ask, I don’t remember anything else.”

A beat. “Yeah. Okay. That’s okay.”

You want to ask if she even wants you to or not. That was never clear, and you were—are—too scared to ask, so… you breathe. Inhale. Exhale. “Okay.”

10 o’clock hour. 2 hours remain.

“Want a pastry? There’s a few left from the ones I brought. I left the lemon ones since they’re your favorite.”

You hum, fiddling with the tea kettle with a bit more focus. 

She’s staring again. You can feel it at the back of your skull from where she’s sitting at the table.

“Are they?”

You don’t want to disappoint her even further tonight, but the deflating sigh is telling.

“Yeah, they are.”

You take them out to have with your tea.

Turns out she’s right.

12 o’clock hour.

The two of you are at the door. You, inside; she, outside. The air smells like the flowery tea you drank, along with the heady, humid damp that is the forest at night. She’s leaving, and it’s dark, and you never really know when she gets home because you have no communication to the outside world and you never thought to ask why and it’s too late now, isn’t it—?

“I’ll see you tomorrow, okay? I get off work early, so I’ll try to come by early if I don’t get hung up with anything.” 

She’ll come on time like she always does, but—

“Okay. Thanks again for the bug spray.”

She smiles, something you read as fond. “Sure, anytime. Anything else you need? I can bring it tomorrow.”

I need answers. I need to know what I did. Who I am. My name. Your name. 

I need you to stay. 

“Nah, I think I’m good for now.” You shake your head at the floor. Partially at yourself. Coward. “If I think of anything, I’ll let you know tomorrow.”

She hums, teasing. “Write it down. You’ll forget.” 

You huff out a chuckle. “Probably.” You hesitate, then, “Just add ‘em to the list of things I forgot, then, huh.”

You didn’t expect a laugh, knowing it came out too bitter, but you’re surprised when she pulls you in for a hug.

There’s a jolt inside you—maybe that firecracker relit—but you eventually wrap your arms around her in return. It’s tight, and soft, and warm. 

(You wish it felt familiar.)

It’s over too soon. She pulls away, steps back, mumbles another See you tomorrow, and then she’s off. 

Once she’s over the crest of the hill, hair tufts out of sight, you close the door, kick off your shoes. Fan on low, you don’t bother with washing up, but tumble right into bed, blanket pulled to your chin.

You take a deep, cleansing breath, like she taught you a while ago, in a time you can’t remember. It works for a moment, until it doesn’t. Your next breath is quick and automatic, and you kick the blanket off the most of you with a grunt. 

It’s warm in here.

24 hours remain.


Okay. So I’m liking this whole focus on the passage of time, but I don’t know if the way I have it phrased right now is too blatant or wordy or somethin.

Also gives me Majora’s Mask vibes with that last 24 hours remain bit. I’m also not sure if having that after the “It’s warm in here” repeated line takes away from the impact of that or if it just adds to its own new repetitive-feeling mundane motif of the narrator. HMMM.

Also I didn’t end up cutting 700 words fjdksl there might even be more but I’m too afraid to check and I Apologize.

As far as the title goes. basis was stuck in my head for about a week, and I’m throwing it out there to see if it sticks. I was also thinking unknown basis or basis unknown but I thought they were too… telling, I guess? blunt? [shrug] (I’ll try to come up with an explanation of why I picked basis for next week.)

So! Here it is. Fashionably late. Apologies again!

See y’all next week.

–CM

Writer In Motion | Week 2: [increasingly frantic] oH BOY

I’m bad with length. And titles.

Makes sense I’d be 700 words over with no title yet. Sounds on brand.

It has an ending, though! 😀 That’s new!

She’s. Real emo. But I love her so far.

Let’s get to it.


{TITLE TBD}

It’s warm in here.

It’s not pleasant, and it’s not awful, but it has its moments either way.

It just kinda… is. And that’s fine. You’re not complaining. It’s just a passing thought you have. And’ve had every day. For… 

You fidget on the rickety twin bed, roll over to face the cracked wall. You’ve had urges to start scratching out tallies to mark the days. But that would be a bit much, you think. Make this feel too much like a prison.

But, isn’t it?

With a huff, you spring up, take the few steps across the tiny room of this concrete box of a shack, and jack the fan up a couple notches. It groans with the strain, but the flow of air brings some new life to the room, enough to reassure you some.

This isn’t your prison. It’s your… safehouse? haven? refuge? Those seem too heavy-handed. At least, to your knowledge. Anyway. You can breathe.

So you breathe. Glance around at what you do have. The necessities: bed, minifridge, small bathroom to the back, table and two chairs, little bookshelf stuffed with Things to Entertain Yourself, the radio where she plugs in her…

You blink, skitter around on your bare feet, and check the light coming from the russet window shutters.

Oh.

The shutters are loud, when opened. It’s almost annoying, but you suppose it’s better than silence. (Just as light openly filling the space is better than even yellow slits, like bars.

Not a prison, you remind.)

You’ve had urges to keep them open, but let’s face it. You’re paranoid. 

And you hate bugs.

Suffice it to say, the hill your shack is seated on, surrounded sporadically by lush dark greens and pale yellows, is heavily and without fail stocked with bugs.

Hoisting yourself up onto the sill, you crane your neck to peer over the hill’s crest, at the downtrodden path your only visitor takes to get here.

She’s always on time, so it’s only a few seconds—(alright, half a minute)—before the wispy tufts of her short hair come into view. She’s frowning at her phone, but soon drops it into the big tote bag on her shoulder and looks up. Noticing you in the window, she waves, smiling.

“Hey!”

There’s always a firecracker that goes off between your ribs when she shows up. Makes your limbs jittery and useless. You can’t tell if you hate it or not as you raise a hand in greeting. 

Something buzzes near you, then, far too close to the tip of your nose. You lurch back with a squawk, recognizing the spindly lines of a mosquito, and tumble off the sill, knocking loudly into the side of your bed.

“Ow…” you groan, rubbing the ass cheek you landed on.

There’s the sound of running footsteps, shifting grass, and the door bangs open. She pants, staring down at you, concern in her wide eyes.

“Are you okay?” 

You exhale a laugh. “Yeah, I am. Just a bruise on my ass… and pride.”

Her concern melts to a smirk. “Well, good. Then I can laugh at you.” She then holds out the tote bag for you to take.

Getting to your feet, you scoff, but take the bag anyway. “Just… please tell me that you brought more bug spray. I’m dying out here.” You rummage through the bag, and when you feel a familiar aerosol can, you shout triumphantly.

Once you’ve doused the window in the stuff, you toss the can onto your bed and look up at the sound of the minifridge closing. She shed the heavy green coat she always wears, thrown on the back of a chair, and is leaning against the minimal counter space of the kitchenette, munching on one of the pastries she brought the other day.

“That there’s why you run out all the time.” She gestures with the pastry, spewing crumbs from her mouth. “Spraying it all over the window…” Shaking her head, she takes another bite. It sounds crispy, flaky, and makes you want one, too.

Maybe later.

“It’s preventative,” you shoot back. “Keeps those nasty things out—” You gesture out the window. “—and this nasty thing safe in here.” You gesture to yourself with a flourish.

She snorts, and you feel a lingering sizzle from that firecracker, all the way down to your toes.

“So, anyway,” she says, brushing crumbs off her hands and crossing her arms, “what’re we doing today?”

You look around your shack. To the shelf, the table, the tote bag with her laptop. 

You count your options, hum, think, and grin.

===

“Boring day, today, huh?”

You stretch your arms and legs out, taking up all the space you can on the blanket you had stored under your bed. It’s soft, but durable enough to handle the dirt on the ground without much needed fussy cleaning.

With a loud exhale, you go limp, your right arm and leg landing over hers. She giggles.

“Nothing boring about a picnic and some cloud gazing, man.”

She shifts, and you feel her hand ruffle your hair. “Nah, I guess not. You could’ve been out here without me, though. It’s a nice day.”

You shake your head, making a show of blowing your bangs back into place. “No, I don’t think I could.”

You can feel her wanting to ask. Really ask. How are you doing? Well, you can’t really know for sure, can you? Considering you have nothing to base it on. 

(She asked What do you remember? the first few weeks, but has since stopped.)

With what feels like a cloud passing, she goes, “Ah, right. Bugs.”

You laugh, too quickly even to your own ears. “Yeah, bugs.”

The two of you stare at the sky for a while. 

===

“Want a pastry? There’s a few left from the ones I brought. I left the lemon ones since they’re your favorite.”

You hum, fiddling with the radio with a bit more focus.

She’s staring. You can feel it.

“Are they?”

You don’t want to disappoint her, but the deflating sigh is telling.

“Yeah, they are.”

Turns out she’s right.

===

Some new tune trickles from the tinny speaker of her phone. (She unplugged it from the radio before and is setting up a movie on her laptop. Some anime thing about firefighters she swears you loved. You weren’t sold until she told you about the homoerotic subtext.)

“What’s this?” you ask, sitting up a bit.

She turns, and it hits you that the sun’s gone down. It’s that exact time when the whole world glows—her included, flyaways lit up white. Some squishy, sappy smile spreads on your face, and the soft beats and acoustic lines amplify and diffuse into the surrounding air. You maybe feel a little drunk, enough that you miss her speaking.

“Huh?”

She clicks her teeth, amused. “I said it’s a new Zico track. You like?”

You lower back down to the blanket to hide the warmth in your cheeks from view—(firecracker embers)—and spread your limbs out again. 

The chorus repeats. It’s melancholy, but nice.

You sigh. “Yeah, I like.”

===

“Okay, that was way too long for CPR.”

“Right?! And the framing?! Listen. They know what they did. They know who their target audience was.”

You laugh, bodily, almost keeling over while trying to fold up the blanket. “Studio Trigger said gay rights, huh?”

Silence draws out, and it takes you a second to notice she’s frozen still, looking at you intensely. You think so, at least. The sun set a while ago, so it’s hard to see.

“You… remembered the animation studio’s name?” 

Oh. “Oh.” You finish folding the blanket, slower than before. “Did… did you not mention it? Maybe yesterday you—”

“No, I don’t think I did.”

“Hmm.” There’s a pause, and it’s heavy. You kick at a pebble by your foot, eyes fixed to the dirt. “Before you ask, I don’t remember anything else.”

A beat. “Yeah, I know.”

You want to ask if she even wants you to or not. That was never clear, and you were—are—too scared to ask, so… you breathe.

Inhale. Exhale. “Okay.”

===

The two of you are at the door. You, inside; she, outside. The air smells like the flowery tea she brought, along with the heady, humid damp that is the forest at night. She’s leaving, and it’s dark, and you never really know when she gets home because you have no communication to the outside world and you never thought to ask why and it’s too late now, isn’t it—?

“I’ll see you tomorrow, okay? I get off work early, so I’ll try to come by early if I don’t get hung up with anything.” 

She’ll come on time like she always does, but—

“Okay. Thanks again for the bug spray.”

She smiles, something you read as fond. “Sure, anytime. Anything else you need? I can bring it tomorrow.”

I need answers. I need to know what I did. Who I am. My name. Your name. 

I need you to stay. 

“Nah, I think I’m good for now.” You shake your head at the floor. Partially at yourself. Coward. “If I think of anything, I’ll let you know tomorrow.”

She hums, teasing. “Write it down. You’ll forget.” 

You huff out a chuckle. “Probably.” You hesitate, then, “Just add ‘em to the list of things I forgot, then, huh.”

You didn’t expect a laugh, knowing it came out too bitter, but you’re surprised when she pulls you in for a hug.

There’s a jolt inside you—maybe that firecracker relit—but you eventually wrap your arms around her in return. It’s tight, and soft, and warm. 

(You wish it felt familiar.)

It’s over too soon. She pulls away, steps back, mumbles another See you tomorrow, and then she’s off. 

Once she’s over the crest of the hill, hair tufts out of sight, you close the door, kick off your shoes. Fan on low, you don’t bother with washing up, but tumble right into bed, blanket pulled to your chin.

You take a deep, cleansing breath, like she taught you a while ago, in a time you can’t remember. It works for a moment, until it doesn’t. Your next breath is quick and automatic, and you kick the blanket off the most of you with a grunt. 

 

It’s warm in here.


I literally just wrote the last 4 sections tonight. I knew I wanted to have little scenes throughout their day, and I had more planned, but it’d end up being too much, I think.

Welp. I could probably definitely cut more from the first section. Tighten that up more. But it’s 11:30 and I’m tired.

Hope you enjoy my dumb kids being garbage at their feelings uwu

See y’all next week!

–CM

P.S. Brownie points if you know the movie they watched lol

P.P.S. Triple brownie points if you guess the song >:3c

Writer In Motion | Week 1: [exasperated] oh boy

I have this problem with first drafts. They don’t happen.

That’s not to say I don’t have anything, because I do have some stuff to show you, but I rarely write something all the way through before peeking back and editing, restructuring, revamping, rewording, blah blah.

So that bout of perfectionism, sprinkled with some potent procrastination, and here’s what we’ve got so far. Something unfinished and all over the place that will probably get torn apart and stripped down to something that actually fits under a 1k word limit.

I tweeted how I was able to spew out 300 words in one sitting and nothing had happened yet, and now I’m at 1k words and, like, 2 things have happened.

Which is fine, I think. Most of the things I’ve written over the years have been more… characters’ thought processes than anything else. So we are par for the course, friends, lmao.

But anyway. Here’s what I have as of now.


{TITLE TBD}

It’s warm in here.

It’s not pleasant, and it’s not awful, but it has its moments either way.

It just kinda… is. And that’s fine. You’re not complaining. It’s just a passing thought you have. And have had every day. For… 

You fidget on the rickety twin bed, roll over to face the cracked wall. You’ve had urges to start scratching out tallies to mark the days. But that would make this feel too much like a prison.

But… isn’t it?

You sit up and give your head a few shakes. Nah nah nah, you don’t wanna think like that. You’re out here for a good reason. Probably several good reasons. 

If only it wasn’t as monotonously warm.

With a huff, you spring up, take the few steps across the tiny room of this tiny concrete box of a shack, and jack the fan up a couple notches. It groans with the strain, but the new flow of air brings some new life to the room, enough to reassure you some.

This isn’t your prison. It’s your… safehouse? haven? refuge? Those seem too heavy-handed. At least, to your knowledge. Anyway. You can breathe.

So you breathe. Glance around at what you do have. The necessities–bed, minifridge, small bathroom to the back–and the not-so-much–table and two chairs, little bookshelf stuffed with Things to Entertain Yourself, the radio where she plugs in her…

You blink, skitter around on your bare feet, and check the light coming from the russet red window shutters.

Oh.

The shutters are loud, when opened. It’s almost annoying, but you suppose it’s better than silence. (Just as light openly filling the space is better than even yellow slits, like bars.)

Not a prison, not a prison, not a prison.

You’ve had urges to keep them open, but let’s face it. You’re paranoid. 

And you hate bugs.

Suffice it to say, the hill your box is seated on, sporadically surrounded by lush dark greens and pale yellows, is heavily and without fail stocked with bugs.

Hoisting yourself up onto the sill, you crane your neck to peer over the hill’s crest, at the downtrodden path your only visitor takes to get here.

She’s always on time, so it’s only a few seconds–(alright, half a minute)–before the wispy tufts of her short hair come into view. She’s frowning at her phone, but soon drops it into the big tote bag on her shoulder and looks up. Noticing you in the window, she waves, smiling.

“Hey!”

There’s always a firecracker that goes off between your ribs when she shows up. Makes your limbs jittery and useless. You can’t tell if you hate it or not.

“Hey,” you call back, and raise a hand in greeting. 

Something buzzes near you, then, and you want to ignore it, but it immediately buzzes again, close to the tip of your nose. You lurch back with a squawk, recognizing the sharp spindly lines of a mosquito, and tumble off the sill, knocking loudly into the side of your bed.

“Ow…” you groan, rubbing the ass cheek you landed on.

There’s the sound of running footsteps, shifting grass, and the door bangs open. She pants, staring down at you, concern in her wide eyes.

“Are you okay?” 

You exhale a laugh. “Yeah, I am. Just a bruise on my ass… and pride.”

Her concern melts to a smirk. “Well, good. Then I can laugh at you. That was hilarious.” She then holds out the tote bag for you to take.

Getting to your feet, you scoff, but take the bag anyway, peering inside. “Just… please tell me that you brought more bug spray. I’m dying out here.” You rummage through the bag, and when your fingers wrap around a familiar aerosol can, you give a triumphant, Ah ha!

The next solid thirty seconds are spent on you dousing the whole window area in bug spray, along with your arms and legs. You don’t care too much that it’ll get anywhere else with you spraying it in your box. You don’t hate the smell of it, but you hate bugs more.

Done, you toss the can onto your bed and look up at the sound of the mini fridge closing. She shed the heavy green coat she always wears, thrown on the back of a chair, and is leaning back against the minimal counter space of the kitchenette, munching on one of the pastries she brought the other day.

“That there’s why you run out all the time.” She gestures with the pastry, spewing crumbs from her mouth. “Spraying it all over the window…” Shaking her head, she takes another bite. It sounds crispy, flaky, and makes you want one, too.

You shake your head to yourself a little. Maybe later.

“It’s preventative,” you shoot back. Keeps those nasty things out–” You gesture out the window. “–and this nasty thing safe in here.” You gesture to yourself with a flourish.

She snorts, rolling her eyes, and you feel a lingering sizzle from that firecracker from earlier, all the way down to your toes.

“So, anyway,” she says, brushing crumbs off her hands and crossing her arms, “what’re we doing today?”

You look around your box. To the shelf, the table, the tote bag with her laptop. 

You count your options, hum, think, and grin.

“Boring day, today, huh?”

You stretch your arms and legs out in all directions, taking up all the space you can on the blanket you had stored under your bed. It’s soft, but durable enough to handle the dirt on the ground without much needed fussy cleaning.

With a loud exhale, you go limp, your right arm and leg landing over hers. She giggles.

“Nothing boring about a picnic and some cloud gazing, man.”

She shifts, and you feel her hand ruffle your hair. “Nah, I guess not. You could’ve been out here without me, though. It’s a nice day.”

You shake your head, making a show of blowing your bangs back into place. After a moment, “No, I don’t think I could.”

You can feel her wanting to ask. Really ask. How are you doing? Well, you can’t really know for sure, can you? Considering you have nothing to base it on. 

With what feels like a cloud passing, she goes, “Ah, right. Bugs.”

You laugh, too quickly even to your own ears. “Yeah, bugs.”

The two of you stare at the clouds for a while.


Okay we’re back. You’re lucky, you get the clean, non-highlighted version. Sigh, the whole bit with the bug spray is highlighted bc what is that I could definitely squish that down to like a sentence and is it even necessary–

But aside from chunks of this that I’d like to nix and the fact there’s nO ENDING YET (I have 2 ideas that I’m debating between), I’m liking parts of it. I’ve been intrigued by second person POV, too (tho I might swap to first person if I find I hate it), which I blame on my time working on a choice-based, POV shifting e-lit piece. I also like playing around with ambiguity regarding my characters. I feel like it gives the reader (I really almost just wrote player) a bit of power, almost? Like a game.

I think I wanna write games… huh…

Fair, since I started writing a visual novel with some friends a while back. Really wanna keep that going someday. I miss those dumbass kids. (The characters, not my friends, though I miss those kids, too.)

Anyway. I also have a chunk I cut from the middle–just after the visitor goes “That there’s why you run out all the time.”–that I felt was making the scene too Doom and Gloom too quickly, plus it had a backstory plot I was thinking of cutting (main character’s memory loss). For shits and giggles, here it is:

When you don’t reply, she tilts her head, and her eyes turn knowing. “I left the lemon one. You like those.”

You hesitate, for just the briefest of moments, but cross the room anyway, grabbing yourself one of the other pastries.

Turns out you do like lemon. The realization stills you, and you have to jerkily make yourself nod when she asks if it’s good.

(You don’t talk about it as much as you should–the fact that you don’t remember much from before you were here. You’ll ask her about something later, like you always do. And she’ll be vague but understanding in that sad way of hers, like she always is. It frustrates you sometimes, makes you pause when she says something about you that you don’t know.)

The two of you eat in silence, side by side against the counter. You could use the chairs, but, eh.

I kept it because I like it. But idk. The parenthetical felt a lot, expositionally. (Is that a word? I’m making it a word.) And, do I wanna go with a “main character knows as much as the reader knows aka nothing” or a “main character is unreliable and keeping info from the reader” route regarding the reason they’re out in the middle of nowhere in a box?

Sigh.

The legend of zelda gaming sleep GIF on GIFER - by Cordin
a depiction of my character and also me. ty, Gifer.

Welp.

At the very least, we got somethin’ down.

Have a lovely afternoon, friends.

–CM

(p.s. – pls be prepared for more zelda gifs bc link the the most relatable dude)

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

It Will Be Satisfied

Swamp surrounds the village for as far the eye can see. The soggy soil of our secluded homeland is little more than sponge, sopping up so much water even the slightest of us must strap strings stretched across stiff wooden slats to our feet or else risk being swallowed whole by the sludge. Too many have become meals, preserved in the muck for unsuspecting outsiders to stumble across on a daring jaunt to our far-flung wastes.

It’s why we’re the People of the Mud. 

One of the reasons, at least.

Big sister, unruly and untamable, always donning a reckless sort of snaggled smile, became one such meal.

The night she was swallowed was like most nights in the wastes. Damp air clung heavy to our skin, its dankness cloying in our lungs. Every breath tasted like a chunk of mud we had to choke down. It felt like we would suffocate in our home, like the very air wanted us to.

Who wouldn’t want to escape? Who wouldn’t want to try?

Big sister hushed me in my hammock when climbing down from her own disturbed me, jostled the tenuous ropes holding us aloft and together. Shh, shh… She pressed her lips to my forehead, gave me her softly crooked smile, and then said, in a conspiratorial whisper, It’ll be our little secret little sister, yes? 

I didn’t get a chance to croak out a response before big sister slipped away, over the slim ledge of our room’s tiny window, which was little more than a slit in the wooden slats of our shack, and into the wastes. Her muck- shucks remained, I noticed at daybreak.

She never returned for them.

Flesh and blood, an elder in the hobbled hut stilted ‘side ours said when it was clear big sister was another meal for the wastes. The mud demands it.

Mother and father said nothing in response to the elder. Nodded, yes, but they kept their mouths shut. Held tighter to their silence than they did big sister. I kept my mouth shut too. Choked down the dank air of our home. Swallowed the bitterness.

I said nothing when no vigil was held. Nothing when I was moved into big sister’s hammock and my old one was filled not a year later by another child. Nothing when big sister’s muck-shucks were pried from my protective hold and broken into bits by father, strung together again by mother. Remade, so carefully, for a smaller pair of pitter-patter feet.

I said nothing when bitterness turned sour and seeping. 

In the swamp, the mud is not the only thing that makes demands, that requires sacrifices. The water, too, has wants. Has hungers. There is a ritual that must be performed before it will let our dead lie.

Touch

We must honor the passed with one last memory of a loving touch. Must comfort them a final time, skin to skin, or else risk their disgruntled, starving spirit coming back with a vengeance for what was denied

Flesh and blood. 

This hunger thickens the air, sticks to our skin like soil to muck-shucks. Burrows deep down the backs of our throats and settles solid in our lungs. 

It thrums through our veins. 

It slithers out of the murk and into your hut at night. Up into your hammock. Coils ’round and ’round you till its smooth, scaly touch is all you can feel. 

It sneaks up on you while you’re muck-shucking at dusk. Watches you with beady eyes from razory reeds, saw-tooth grass, biding it’s time till you tempt fate too far and then it is tusks through your soft tissues. 

It is a jagged-jawed maw lying in wait at sundown in the shallows’ shadows. Scaled hide shades of dark red in the day’s dying light. Eyes dim until the moment mother leans too far for the laundry line and topples down into the drink. Till father wades in too deep to rescue her and is sucked under.

It can be a gentle shove too much. A helping hand pressed too hard to mother’s back. A nudge too knowing towards a hopeless rescue. 

Sometimes, it can be a mouth kept shut. A cry for help choked down. Swallowed.

Shh, shh…

The water settles slowly, red ripples staining the surrounding mud. Feeding it. The soggy soil savors the blood as if starved for it. Just above the murky surface, snaggle-toothed snout slinks. Shadows give it a crooked curl, an almost smile. Then, with a single thrash of its reptilian tail, it fades back into the wastes’ muddy maw. Finally able to rest.

Baby sister wriggles in my hold.

“Ma? Da?” She mumble-grumbles, pointing a pudgy finger at the settling murk. “Go?”

Shh….” I soothe her struggling, her searching, my voice less than pacifying from long disuse. “It’s a secret.”

I glance down at the red streaks still swirling in the murk, the bone fragments floating like the broken bits of an old pair of forgotten muck-shucks. They weren’t forgotten.

“Our secret, yes?”

****

I hope you enjoyed that! This is yet another story inspired by a Twitter prompt. In this case, it is a second draft of a story I published on this blog a while back. It will probably not be the last draft of this story, either. Most of my stories are all works in progress. I’m sure plenty off writers can relate! Anyway, let me know what you think!