torsdag den 28. april 2011

Coming Home, pt. 21

    'There is much you say that I do not understand, Ripley.' The pilgrim apologized with an unfamiliar softness in his voice. She had sounded genuinely upset. The pilgrim often cursed himself for his lack of social graces. He knew that he came off as hostile, but he hadn't had a friend for many years, and he dearly wanted to make one. Ripley was a strange one to be sure, but she seemed genuinely friendly and cheerful. Cheer was something of a rarity those days.
    Ripley sighed. 'No, I suppose you wouldn't know about quality Television in...' She paused. 'What year is it again?'

onsdag den 27. april 2011

søndag den 24. april 2011

Coming Home, pt. 20

    'What's behind the door?' he asked, once again holstering his gun.
    Ripley answered, but this time her voice was that of a grown man. Strange, haunting music played as she - now he - spoke. 'You unlock this door with the key of imagination,' she said. 'Beyond it is another dimension. A dimension of sound. A dimension of sight. A dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You just crossed over into... The Twilight Zone.'
    The pilgrim blinked in confusion.
    'Come on!' Ripley said when no further reaction was forthcoming. 'That was spot on!'

lørdag den 23. april 2011

Coming Home, pt. 19

    'Hidden speakers and mikes.' Ripley said simply. She went on when she saw the confusion on the pilgrim's face. 'Speakers are basically these flat, square things with... I'll just read you the Wikipedia entry, 'kay?'
    'I suppose,' he said, not sure what a "weekeepeedea" was.
    Ripley pretended cleared her throat with an "ahuhum" and started talking, her voice official-sounding and monotone. 
    'A loudspeaker - or "speaker" - is an electroacoustic transducer that produces sound in response to an electrical signal input. The term "loudspeaker' may refer to indiv-'
    The pilgrim interrupted her with a raised hand. 'Alright, alright.' He said. 'Save your breath.'

fredag den 22. april 2011

Coming Home, pt. 18

    'Now look up. See that? That's a camera.'
    The pilgrim had no idea what a "camera" was, so he just nodded.
    'Alright,' he said, 'And what of it?'
    'The cameras down here serve as my eyes.'
    He stood on the tips of his toes, peering into the small, black lens above the door. 'Eyes,' he muttered.
    'Could you back off a bit, buddy? You're not exactly Sean Connery, know what I mean?'
    He didn't know what she meant, nor did he really care.
    'If this "cah-me-rah" is your eye,' he asked, 'What of your ears and mouth?'

torsdag den 21. april 2011

Coming Home, pt. 17

    'Oh, what now?' The woman complained. 
    The pilgrim whirled about, gun in hand, his suspicions redoubled. 
    'What are you?' He asked. 'A spirit? A demon?'
    'Well, I certainly am spirited! Ha ha ha!' The woman laughed. The pilgrim didn't. 'Ha ha... ha... Uh, right. Okay. Clearly you're not used to cameras and such. Not to worry, I'll fill you in on the basics. Step one: Put the gun away, please.'
    'No,' the pilgrim growled.
    'Fine, mister grumpy pants, we'll skip step one. Step two: Make your angry way to the door.'
    Keeping his gun pointed at said door, he moved to stand in front of it. 

onsdag den 20. april 2011

Coming Home, pt. 16

    The pilgrim ignored the comment and waited for his eyes adjust to the sudden brightness.
    'You okay?' The woman asked. 'You didn't go blind or anything?'
    'I'm fine. Just give me a moment.'
    He squinted his eyes and peered around the room. Three steps wide and ten deep, it wasn't as much a room as a hallway. At the far end of the room, a dozen yards away, a white door was set into the smooth, white wall.
    Not a threat in sight. But something niggled at the back of his mind. What was wrong with this picture? With a sudden rush of realization, he drew his gun. He was alone in the room. Where was the woman?

tirsdag den 19. april 2011

Coming Home, pt. 15

    'I beg your pardon?'
    'Just bash the button with your gun!'
    Holding the gun by the barrel, the pilgrim did as the woman asked. As soon as the pommel struck, he felt something give way. A grinding squeal set his teeth on edge and a faint buzzing sound came from above him. With a series a clicks and zaps, a row of long, narrow lights switched on, flooding the room with pale light.
    'There we go,' the woman chirped, 'Now let's have a good look at y-... Oh.' She trailed off. 'Oh wow. You look like shit, buddy. Shit times crap. Divided by Willem Dafoe.'

Word of the day: "Nix"; 1. To make something become nothing; to reject or cancel. 2. To destroy or eradicate.

mandag den 18. april 2011

Coming Home, pt. 14

    'Alright,' the pilgrim croaked and holstered his gun. 'I trust you, Ripley.'
    'Excellent! Now how about you press that itty bitty button right there, so I can get a good look at that handsome mug of yours?'
    'Do you swear upon your father's name that there
    'Yes! Jeez, trust issues all up in this bitch.'
    The pilgrim frowned. He understood very little of this strange woman's speech, but he got the sense that she meant him no harm. With an inward shrug, he pushed the button.
    It didn't budge.
    'Is it stuck? Just give it a whack with that big, hard thing of yours!' The woman giggled.

Word of the day: "Taciturn;" (adjective) silent; temperamentally untalkative; disinclined to speak.

søndag den 17. april 2011

Coming Home, pt. 13

    The pilgrim had never heard anyone talk like that before. The woman spoke with an inflection and accent unlike any he'd ever come across.
    'How do I know I can trust you?' he yelled into the darkness.
    'Ah! He speaks! I was afraid you'd lost your tongue for a moment there. And I suppose you can't really trust me. My mom always told me that you can't trust someone if you don't know their name, so I suppose I'll have to introduce myself. My name is Ripley, and I'll be your waiter this evening. Would you like to hear about today's special?'

Word of the day: "Logogram;" (noun) A character or symbol that represents a word or phrase.

lørdag den 16. april 2011

Coming Home, pt. 12

    How long had he been in this place of cold and darkness? He had hoped it to be his salvation, but now he couldn't help but wonder, if he had replaced a death under a blue sky with a death in darkness and cold. Hunger and thirst tore at his throat and stomach with burning fingers. He would cry, but there wasn't enough fluid in him to produce tears.
    The pilgrim went to descend another step, but found that the stairs seemed to stop. Had he finally reached the bottom? His hand brushed against something on the wall, and he jerked it back with a gasp. A trap? Wary, he reached out to place his fingers lightly on the thing. Careful not to press or shift anything, he traced his fingers over it. It was a box of some sort with a circle in the middle about an inch wide.
    He hesitated. He thought the circle could be pressed, but who knew what would happen if he did so.
    'It's okay,' a female voice said, startling him. 'You can press it.'
    By the time the cheery voice had finished talking, he had drawn steel. He remained motionless, stretching his senses to their utmost. Not a wind stirred.
    'There's no need for the cannon, buddy,' the voice laughed. 'It won't do you any good down here, especially not against me. Now press the damn button. Unless you're just a big chicken, in which case you can just scamper back up to the surface.'
    The pilgrim didn't move.
    'You know you want to...' she teased.
    When the pilgrim remained silent and unmoving, the voice let out an annoyed sigh.
    'The button just turns on the lights, alright? I ain't got all day, you know. Places to be, people to see.' The voice seemed to think this over. 'Well, place.' It said. 'And you're the only person I've seen in a while. So stop being a little bitch and press the fucking button.' 

Word of the day: "Piffle;" (noun) nonsense, foolish talk. 

onsdag den 13. april 2011

Coming Home, pt. 11

    The very last thing he remembered was the blur of distorted air, the bullet growing in his vision until it was all he could see. He remembered jerking his head to the left and the sudden, intense pain as the bullet grazed his skull. Then darkness.

    He stopped walking. He'd lost count of how many steps he'd taken. He'd thought of his past many times during the years away from home, but the almost tangible darkness in the depths of this strange place made the memories seem all the more vivid. He ran his fingers through his hair, feeling the rough, hairless scar that ran from his temple to behind his ear.

Word of the day: "Agathokakological"; (noun) composed of both good and evil.

tirsdag den 12. april 2011

Coming Home, pt. 10

    As the fourth man dropped, blood spraying from a wound in his chest, the remaining three drew steel. Their first barrage went wild, firing in panic before they had a chance to aim. The muzzle flash lit up their faces for a split second. Demons, he had thought. Demons in the shapes of men, come to sow the seeds of fire and corruption. Josiah downed another. The gunslinger had just enough time to be proud of him before the remaining two fired.
    The first bullet buzzed past his ear like an angry hornet. The second flew true. It felt like someone had punched him in the chest. A dull pain spread over his ribs and the breath was torn from his lungs. But he ignored the growing pain, praying only that the bullet hadn't gone through. That it hadn't hit Mariah.
    He dropped the sixth with a bullet through the throat. He could barely keep his gun - a massive thing of matte steel - steady. His vision was narrowing. His head was growing heavier.
    The final man fired and time seemed to slow. The gunslinger could hear the shot only as a muffled thump. The flash was a glimmer of light in the darkness.

søndag den 10. april 2011

Coming Home, pt. 9

    The pistol grip felt smooth and cold under his fingers. His long coat stirred as a gust of wind rolled over them. He had six shots. Josiah had three. There were seven of them. He would have to be quick. Quick and smart. He looked Coon Junior in the eyes.
    'Think your father'd be proud of you, Junior?' He asked.
    'Ah think m-' Junior began.
    The gunslinger drew. Junior fell first, his head bursting like an over-ripe melon. His next shot caught a second man in the chest, hurling him beyond the light from the fire. Josiah's rifle roared, sending a slug through the gut of a third.

lørdag den 9. april 2011

Coming Home, pt. 8

    The pilgrim proceeded cautiously down into the inky darkness. His footsteps made haunting echoes that never seemed to stop.
    He fell into his usual steady walking pace that he could keep up for hours. His consciousness turned towards dark and bloody memories.

    Flames roared and dances, turning his home to ash. The starry night sky stretched from horizon to horizon. The gunslinger faced the seven masked men, shielding Mariah and the newborn. His firstborn, still a child, stood next to him with the rifle his father had bought him last year. He had looked happy, then. Eyes wide in awe at the symbol of faith entrusted to him. Now he clutched the thing in shaking hands, face streaked with soot and tears.
    The gunslinger - not yet a pilgrim - stood tall and strong. His big hand rested on the wooden hilt of his gun. His first instinct was to tell his family to run. Tell them to head for Fort Rockdale. But he knew it would do no good. Mariah was too stubborn to leave him, and he would need Josiah's rifle if they were to stand any chance of surviving.
    One of the masked men had said something. He couldn't remember what. He only remembered that none of them had drawn their guns yet.

torsdag den 7. april 2011

Coming Home, pt. 7

    The pilgrim got to his feet and started moving tentatively down the hallway, keeping one hand on the wall to support himself. A bright yellow line was painted onto the left wall. A dozen yards beyond the entrance, the hallway descended into a set of stone steps. It was getting cold. Cold. He'd almost forgotten what it felt like. He pulled his duster close around him and walked into the thickening darkness.
    The air tasted like he felt; dry and ancient. Small clouds of dust puffed up around his boots. He counted the steps and when he reached 30, he stood alone and afraid in almost total darkness.

onsdag den 6. april 2011

Do You Hear (I'm a NextUp Semi-Finalist!) VOTE FOR ME!

Coming Home, pt. 6

    He thought of his children. One a young boy with his father's eyes, the other a stranger. He thought of them growing up without a father. He thought of Mariah growing old, lying alone in bed every night. Something stirred within him. This wasn't okay. He couldn't let that happen. He wouldn't! He forced his aching heart to speed up. His arms and legs prickled as feeling returned to them, and he drew in a ragged, desperate gulp of air. He forced his eyes to open yet again.
    He was on his back in a cold stone corridor. Looking around, he realized that the door must have opened while he was busy dying. The falling sensation must have been him actually falling backwards into the corridor.

tirsdag den 5. april 2011

Coming Home, pt. 5

    The pilgrim did so. Despite the choking heat, his feet and hands were cold. His heart was slowing down, but that was okay. He'd die here, sitting in the middle of a desert. That was okay too. Dark spots appeared in his vision, and he let his heavy eyelids fall shut. The darkness was nice. The only sound was that of his own shallow breathing. He felt himself drift into unconsciousness. It felt like falling backwards.
     He thought of Mariah, all gentle curves and tired smiles. He thought of the way her blonde curls would constantly fall into her eyes. He thought of the way she tucked them behind her ear.

mandag den 4. april 2011

Coming Home, pt. 4

    The pilgrim let a bony finger trace the edge of the door. It lined up almost perfectly with smooth stone wall. He tried wedging his thumbnail between the door and the wall, but he could not. He braced himself and, summoning his last vestiges of strength, tried pushing the door. He strained and grunted, limbs shaking, but to no avail. It didn't shift an inch. Sighing, he slid to the ground, leaning against the door. He swallowed and a lance of pain shot from his right ear to his throat. I guess this is it, he thought. He might as well sit down and wait to die.

søndag den 3. april 2011

Coming Home, pt. 3

    He kept his eyes fixed on the slowly growing dark spot. It was larger than he'd thought. As he came within a hundred strides of it, he realized that it was some sort of structure unlike any he'd ever seen. A square slab of gray stone stood 30 feet from end to end and twice the height of a man. As he stumbled into the cooling shade it provided, he looked in amazement at the stonework. It must have been carved from a mountain, he thought. To his right, a metal door was set into the stone with no obvious means of opening it.

lørdag den 2. april 2011

Coming Home, pt. 2

    Time passes.

    He felt the burden of the curse upon him still. The black mark, spreading across his chest like cobwebs, felt numb and cold to the touch. He could no longer feel his own heartbeat. The pilgrim let out a half-choked cough and spat a drop of grimy saliva on the dry and cracked soil. His last drink of water had been almost two day ago, and it was starting to show. His legs felt incapable of supporting his gaunt and corpse-like frame. His boots dragged on the ground. His mind seemed to try to escape from the confines of his sagging head. If he had been a romantic, he would have said that he could almost hear the angels calling his name. But he wasn't, so he didn't.
    A dark spot in the distance caught his attention. The distance was too great to make out what it was - if anything. Likely it was just another mirage. He'd seen plenty of those the last couple of days, his hopes crushed time and again.
    Didn't make much difference, really. He was still going to keep walking, follow the sun. Keep heading west, he told himself, and eventually he'll find his home.

Author's note: The 'Coming Home' stories are inspired by The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. Credit where credit is due.