Monday, June 28, 2010

Short Story: The Attic

Here's another short story. Hope you like it.

side note-I have no idea why some paragraphs are indented and some aren't. I can't seem to fix it either. Guess I'm just not tech savvy enough :)

The Attic


The steps creaked noisily under my feet as I climbed into the attic. The little slates of wood swayed discomfortingly under my weight. Carefully but quickly, I pulled myself up onto the uneven floor of the attic. I hated climbing that pull-down ladder. It always gave me a slight sense of vertigo.

Stumbling in the darkness, I searched the air around me with my hand, hoping to find the string to the light. My hand fought with the cord as it wrapped itself between my fingers and I fumbled to get a grip.

Through the sound of the pounding rain against the roof, I heard a slight creak behind me. I turned around, but couldn’t see anything except for the faint light that shone in from the hole where the ladder sat open. No one else was up here with me, so I had to assume it was just the wood settling.

Finally, I caught hold of the string and pulled, letting dim light shine down around me. The bulb was getting old and gave off a faint, orange-tinged glow. A haze of dust floated in the air around me, blurring my vision as I crouched in the attic. I stepped forward cautiously and prayed that all the musty smelling beams were still solid enough to hold my weight.

I hadn’t been up here in a long time and now the little space seemed even smaller somehow. But Mom needed the Christmas decorations, so here I was, sent to rummage through boxes in search of a few old decorations. Of course, she couldn’t have made it easy for me at all and, oh I don’t know, actually label any of the boxes. No, that’d be asking too much. So now, I faced stacks of blank cardboard boxes as they mocked me with their intimidating numbers. How was I supposed to find the one box of decorations in all of this mess?

Another louder creak to my left had me spinning around again. I turned just in time to see the corner of a sheet draped over an old stand-up mirror flip up before fluttering back into place.

“Just…just a draft”, I whispered to myself. No need to get freaked out over something like that just because it was creepy up here. I’m sure there was a vent over there or something that I just couldn’t feel.

Hesitantly, I stepped forward in search of the box I needed until I felt something scurry over my foot. I looked down and screamed. I slapped my hand to my mouth, quickly silencing my panic. A disgustingly furry mouse had crawled over my foot before racing away to hide in the dark corners around me.

Gross.

Moving on, now with my eyes also peeled for disease infested rodents, I continued on until I came to a stack of larger boxes. Grabbing one, I pulled open the lid only to find it filled with old clothes that smelled like mothballs. I set it aside and continued my search through the other boxes until I heard another sound, not quite a creak this time. It was louder and closer now, like something scraping against the floorboards or slowly dragging across them.

I squinted in the dim light as I searched for the sound until a small box suddenly dropped down next to me. I jumped up at the movement as another gasping scream escaped.

Not a draft. A draft couldn’t make a box fall, no matter how small it might be.

“T-Tommy?” I whispered into the stifling quiet of the attic. “This isn’t funny. Come out now.”

Silence.

I tried brushing off the feeling of being watched as the hairs on the nape of my neck stood on end. Turning back around, I grabbed another box to look through and hoped this one would hold the decorations, so I could get out of here. Alone or not, the attic was still disturbingly creepy.

My hands felt clammy as I opened the box in front of me. The feeling of being watched lingered and caused my heart to beat erratically. I gave a cry of fright when the light suddenly turn off, plunging me into complete darkness.

I fumbled around as my eyes attempted to adjust to the lack of light.

“Stop it now, Tommy. I know you’re up here,” I said into the darkness. He had to be. If it wasn’t him, then who—or what—was it? I turned around, searching for the light’s draw-string.

I was being foolish and jumping to conclusions. It was just me up here. The bulb was old, maybe it just went out. That would be my luck.

Another scraping sound directly in front of me had me believing that maybe I wasn’t jumping to conclusions after all. Slowly, the sound dragged closer. I peered into the darkness, but couldn’t see anything. Inch by inch the sound grew closer as my heart pounded in time.

Just as I found the draw-string, a small voice drifted from the shadows around me saying, “You’re not alone.” It was said in an eerie sing-song voice that sent a trickle of fear racing down my spine. It had to be Tommy now. No one else was home.

I turned the light on and practically jumped out of my skin as I shrieked. Tommy stood directly in front of me right under the light.

Sighing with relief that I wasn’t actually going insane, I narrowed my eyes in annoyance at him.

“You’re not allowed up here, Tommy.”

“Tommy’s not here,” he said in a haunted whisper. He tilted his head slightly to the side as vacant eyes stared through me.

“Stop it. You’re right there. I see you.”

“No…he’s not.” His voice turned flat and emotionless as he spoke. Not at all like Tommy’s normal carefree cadence. What was wrong with him? Again, my heart rate picked up as I stared down at my little brother. This wasn’t like him at all.

“S-stop.” I stuttered and grabbed his shoulder. I shook him lightly in hopes of getting some sort of normal reaction out of him, instead those unnaturally vacant eyes just continued to stare back at me unseeing.

“Tommy. Tommy!” I said, each syllable was shouted louder than the last.

Suddenly, he jerked under my grip as he threw his hands up and shouted. I screamed a full on lung-piercing scream as his reaction shocked me. I stumbled away from him, still screaming, before bumping into a box and falling down hard onto the wooden floor.

Tommy lifted one arm back up and pointed at me as he stepped forward with the slowest of movements. My chest heaved as I tried to calm my breathing after screaming so long. With each step that he took toward me, my heart beat faster and faster.

He jerked to a stop once he was directly in front of me. My eyes raked over his face for any sign of my little brother.

“T-Tommy?” I stuttered again, unsure of what to say.

Suddenly, his eyes flicked straight to me as if finally seeing me for the first time before loud giggling erupted all around me.

“I scared you so bad!” he teased. My face hardened and I scrambled to get up and chase him as his laughter drifted all around me.

“I’m gonna kill you, Tommy!” I shouted while running after him. “That wasn’t funny!”

He rushed to the other side of the attic before hopping down and out of my reach. Not caring about the dust or mice anymore, I dropped to the floor and tried to stop by body from shaking so much. Adrenaline still coursed through me and I willed my heart to stop beating so fiercely as I took deep calming breathes.

Stupid, little brothers.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Review: Forgive my Fins

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Book Description:
Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid – she’s a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been living on land and going to Seaview high school ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems – like her obnoxious, biker boy neighbor Quince Fletcher – but it has that one major perk – Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type – when they “bond,” it’s for life.

When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.


Review:
So, I just finished reading this and I liked it. It was a quick and fun read that I think makes a great summer read. The book is a mix of cute and snaky that is blended together nicely. The story is just a teen love story with (obviously) a mermaid twist. I liked the interaction between Lily and Quince a lot, but probably just past halfway through the book I thought it was a little repetitive. Just the same situation for a little too long. All in all though, it was a fun and light read that I enjoyed and I'm looking forward the the sequel Fins are Forever that is set to come out sometime in 2011.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Short Story: The Carousel

Here's the short story that I promised. Got it done faster than I thought I would. Hope you enjoy it.

Again, since I'm just copying and pasting from my word doc. the indents for the paragraphs just don't want to show up or work for me. Annoying, but I just can't figure it out...anyway, enjoy.

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The Carousel

“We shouldn’t be here,” I whisper to Kyle.

“Don’t worry. Nothing’s going to happen. There haven’t been any incidents in months.” His easy tone only sets my nerves on edge more; he should be more concerned about what we’re doing.

Even with just the slight amount of moonlight filtering down through the trees around us, his easy smile lights up his face. I drink in his handsome features even as fear creeps throughout my body. Kyle’s dark hair hangs in soft lengths around his tan face while warm brown eyes the shade of chestnuts stare confidently back at me.

Our features are as different as you can get. Compared to his tan and dark looks I’m pale and light. I looked down at our entwined hands. Fair skin adorned with a smattering of freckles contrasts against his russet-colored skin. The wind picks up and wraps its chilly fingers around me, causing long strands of orange hair to wrap around my face.

Freeing my hand from his, I pull at the veils of hair obscuring my vision. Now is not the time to be thoughtless enough to let my eyes be covered. We’re already beyond reckless by just being out here. We need to keep vigilant of any movement there might be around us.

“There haven’t been any incidents because no one except you and your friends have been stupid enough to leave the boundaries of the district,” I finally reply. “We shouldn’t be out here.”

My heart hammers in my chest with each step we take that brings us farther and farther away from the safety of the district. How did I let Kyle talk me into this?

“Ease up, Penny. We’ll be back soon enough.”

“And we’ll have to sneak back in just like we had to sneak out. There’s a reason the guards are there, Kyle.”

I’ve never been outside the walls in my entire life, immediately I decide I hate it out here. All my senses are on high alert, just waiting for any sign of danger. Dead leaves cling to the branches and rustle in the chilly breeze. The noise is eerie and haunting in the silence that surrounded us. Even the snapping of small twigs under our own feet sends me shivering and searching the landscape around us.

“Yeah, to keep us locked in,” Kyle says, drawing my attention back to him and away from our surroundings.

“No. The guards are there to keep them out.”

“Well, that’s what we’ve got this for.” He shrugs his right shoulder, showing the tarnished axe he brought. It looks so heavy I doubt I’d even be able to lift it. Hopefully neither of us will need it.

“Come on, it’s just a little farther.”

“What is it anyway?” I ask. “What did you find? Not that I’m happy you went sneaking out with your friends.” Curiosity steals over me despite my fear.

“Kinda like we are?” He smiles.

“Be quiet,” I tease back. The tension that has been building inside of me slowly eases with each minute that passes safely by us, until a false sense of security wraps around me.

“Here…” Kyle says as we stopped in the middle of a clearing filled with all sorts of metal structures, “…is your surprise.”

He gives me a quick kiss before taking me with his free hand and guiding me over to something round and metal. It’s so big that both of us could have easily fit on it. Little bars of the same metal divided the large disc.

“What is it?”

I stare at the objects surrounding us. Beside the disk are structures that look like you could climb up and down them and something smooth and wide that twists from the top all the way down to the ground.

“I’m not sure, but it’s a lot of fun. Get on.”

I pause and glance around us one more time before stepping up onto the large disc.

“Hold on to the bars in front of you,” Kyle tells me. I do as he says and wait.

“Now what?” I ask. The ease that had been snaking its way through me is starting to disappear as I look around and see just how vulnerable we are, so far from the safety of the walls.

“This.” He sets his axe down on the ground and grabs hold of the bars behind me. “Hold on tight.”

“Wait. Should you put that down?” Worry creases my brown as I look from him to the axe to the area around us. We’re in some sort of clearing. All the metal structures around us are set in a wooden border and not far outside of that are trees upon trees that could hide any number of threats. Directly behind us, where we came from, rests the district and all the protection that I know it could provide. I desperately want to turn around and go back, but curiosity kept me rooted in place.

“Don’t be scared, little Penny,” Kyle whispers quietly in my ear. The heat of his breath lingers on my skin and warms me against the cold night. With a quick kiss on my cheek and another ‘Hold on tight’, he began pushing the round object I stand on.

Metal groans against metal as the disc slowly starts to spin. I grip the bars tighter as the structure turns in circles, bringing me along with it. Faster and faster Kyle pushes until it feels like I’m flying. Never before in my life have I gone so fast. The wind rushes past me, whipping my hair behind me in a frenzy.

A bubble of laughter bursts through me as I spin along with the revolving disc. Gradually, the structure starts to slow down, but the sounds of the metal groaning against itself increases. I slid off once it stops, ready to exclaim to Kyle just how amazing that had been.

Stepping off the disc, the world around me twists in an uncomfortable way and I fight to steady myself before looking up. Raising my head, I find Kyle wide-eyed and gripping his axe. Immediately, my laughter cuts off as I scan the area around us. There are dozens upon dozens of them, closing in on us. My heart beats out of my chest and I have to fight just to breathe. My head swims as I try to stop the still spinning world around me.

Slowly, everything stills and comes into horrible clarity. There aren’t as many as I first thought, but we’re still terribly outnumbered, with only one weapon. Their moans drifted over the air, chilling me to my bones. It wasn’t the sound of metal on metal that I heard groaning. It was them.

“Get behind me,” Kyle orders. He situates himself in front of me with his axe ready. Behind him or not, I wouldn’t be safe. They surrounded us completely. “I love you,” he whispers brokenly as if he knows it’s last thing he’ll say to me. “I’m so sorry, Penny.”

“I-I love you too,” I say. The words tremble in my throat, choking to come out.

Tension radiates off of Kyle, sending more fear running through me, as he grips his weapon tighter. Next to my foot rests a thick branch that I quickly pick up. I hold it clutched in my sweating hands, ready to swing at the undead that are quickly making their way to us. My heart beats fiercely in my chest with each stumbling step they take closer to us.

Decaying hands reach out towards us as bloody and rotted teeth flash in the moonlight. They sniff the air, searching for signs of fresh meat, while hunger haunts their vacant eyes. The sight of them alone is enough to send fear stabbing through the heart of anyone, but the smell that comes with them is a nightmare of its own.

I hold my breath as tears stream down my face. This is it. There’s no way we could make it out of this alive. Our own foolishness will make us victims to the undead.

They close in on us and Kyle strikes out with his axe, slicing off an arm that threatened to reach us, but there are too many. He hacks and chops at the horde around us while I swing blindly with my branch. It isn’t enough. With one last shove Kyle pushes me away from them.

“Run!” he yells as they bring him down, descending upon him like vultures. I let out a choking gasp of tears and fear, watching him disappear beneath the piles of the hungry dead.

Unsatisfied with just him, they turn to me. Fingers broken with bones sticking grotesquely out grab at me. Nails and bone alike dig into my flesh as they pull me to them. I shriek and jerk away, but they’re surprisingly strong and hold me tight.

I smash my branch against one only to have it break in half. The sting of a bite on my arm has me screaming in desperation and pain. I’m dead now. No matter what, I’m dead. Rancid teeth dig into my leg and then dozens of hands are pulling me down. A harsh and anguishing bite to my throat leaves me lying helplessly on the ground. I can’t even feel the pain anymore, my body blessedly numb. My eyes drift to the painful sight of Kyle, broken and bloody on the ground, before resting on the object of our demise. The metal disc glares back, unforgiving in the bleak moonlight. It mocks me with my own foolishness as the sounds of moaning fills my ears just before silence and darkness engulf me completely.



Ah, the joys of being an aspiring and unpublished writer.

Ugh. So I've spent the majority of last night and today (not to mention other countless hours other days) on researching query letters and synopses. Not all that fun. After writing one query letter and sending it to an agent, I reread it and cringed. What was I thinking? It was terrible. No suprise that I didn't hear back from that agent. Thankfully, I only sent that out to just one. So now, I've been spending hours upon hours writing a new query letter that, so far, I'm much happier with and working on a synopsis (which I'm still in the middle of working on but am taking a break). How is it possible that I can: write a novel, revise, revise, revise it, and make edits upon edits to it, but these seemingly simple tasks of writing a query and synopsis are taking so much more out of me. Sigh...but the good news is, I'm persevering and still kinda enjoying it. What's the point of this post, you ask? Good question. The point is, I had planned on writing another short story to post either yesterday or today, but instead I have been sidetracked by this other stuff. Not too bad a thing, though, since this is pretty important stuff to me. What's the good news? Well, I still hope on putting up a new short story, but probably not until later tonight or tomorrow at the earliest. Also, if you have any ideas for a short story that you want to hear then I'm all ears. Feel free to throw an idea out there.

Yeah this was pretty much me after rereading that first query letter...but ya know, not in guy form.
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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Short Story: Depthless Blue

So, I wanted to use this blog to write reviews and also post some short stories as I write them. This is really my first short story and I just wrote it tonight. So...if anyone actually ever reads this blog besides me, feel free to let me know what you think! Thanks for taking the time to view my page and I hope you like it.

Also, a great song to listen to while you read this would be Open Water by Thrice on their Alchemy Index Vol. II Water album.


Depthless Blue

A cool, salty breeze blew off the water and caressed my face as if trying to comfort my loneliness with its touch. The vastness of the dark sky and the emptiness of the beach only added to that loneliness.

I stared out at the immense ocean before me. Waves crashed angrily onto the shore before sloshing sadly around my feet, soaking my ragged sneakers.

Angry. Sad. Was I just projecting my own emotions onto what could have been a soothing and calm scene?

What was I doing here anyway? Running away from my problems? No. No, I came here hoping for the quiet comfort that the ocean always gave me, but tonight the peace that I sought felt just beyond my reach. I was grasping at the wisps of previous dreams now. I stood up to leave. A scattering of sand fell to the ground like my broken dreams falling away from me.

I turned to leave just as a sweet song hit my ears. I searched the beach for the source of the music. Beautiful notes cascaded off the breeze and blended into an enchanting tune, leaving a calmness in its wake.

My gaze shifted out to the ocean—to the beautiful voice and its melody that was wrapping itself around me in an intimate embrace.

A woman floated, all alone, in the dark water. Her sweet voice floated over the surf, beckoning me closer.

She was the most amazing creature I had ever seen. Her creamy, alabaster skin shone luminously in the pale moonlight as her dark eyes sparkled like the stars above. Long hair, the color of the ocean itself, hung to her curves in an enticing way.

The air around me hummed in a gentle anticipation as her voice drifted to silence.

“Come,” she whispered on the waves before taking up her song again.

Mesmerized by her haunting melody, I followed her. I stepped into the water, heedless of the cold that wrapped around my ankles, my calves, and my thighs, until I was waist deep and standing next to her. The cold water swelled around me, pulling me closer to her. I willingly gave in to it as she took my hand.

Her hand was as soft as velvet and sat lightly in my own rough and callused palm. With an ethereal grace she lifted her other hand and gently brush away a stray lock of hair that had fallen into my eyes. Her touch lingered on my face until she was cupping my cheek, her fingers playing against the coarse hairs across my jaw.

She looked up at me with a hypnotizing smile that hinted at secrets. Her obsidian eyes grew larger as she leaned in closer to me. She placed her perfectly crimson lips on top of my own. They felt like liquid satin as they conformed to mine. I wrapped my arm around her small waist and drew her closer to me as the kiss lingered on. Something feather-soft wrapped around my legs as she gently broke the kiss. Through the shadowy waters I could see a tail of frightening beauty. The deep sapphire shade perfectly matched her hair. I looked up and stared in disbelief into eyes as dark as midnight.

“Come,” she whispered again. “I’ll take away your pain.” Her voice floated around me, tempting me to listen. There wasn’t room for questions as I stared at the magnificence that was this creature of myth.

In a trance I followed after her as she guided me deeper into the dark ocean. She swam with an elegance I had never witnessed before while she continued her captivating song.

I struggled to keep up with her, eager to feel the touch of her lips again. I fought through the thick currents that swirled around me and swam deeper and deeper into the ocean, the lure of her song becoming stronger.

Finally, she stopped. In the middle of the depthless blue she turned to me and smiled.

She glided closer to me, ending her song. Eagerness thrummed throughout my body as she took my hand in hers again. I dipped my head down, letting our lips meet.

Her mouth moved in whispers as I kissed her. “I’ll take away your pain,” she murmured under my touch before deepening the kiss.

She sank into the water, tugging me down with her until there was nothing but heated kisses and icy water. Deeper and deeper she dove. Salty water stung my throat and I choked down mouthfuls between the sweetness that was the brush of her lips against mine.

But my lungs burned and I fought to breathe as she drew me further into the depths. Her arms wrapped around me and the seductive greeting of our lips persisted. I couldn’t bring myself to pull away from her, not even to save myself. I thirsted for her kisses more than I desired the air that my lungs rebelled for.

My limbs grew heavy and I swore my lungs would burst, but I didn’t care. I’d gladly give her my life for just one more kiss.

She pulled away, separating me completely from the magic that was her touch.

“Forever, I’ll keep you,” she whispered through the waters, “without pain.”

I drifted down, farther away from her. She stared at me and smiled. And even as death loomed around the corner, I grieved the loss of her touch and not my life. I fought to reach her again, but my body disobeyed and I continued to float away.

A haze of darkness lurked around my eyes as my unresponsive body hit the sea floor. I gazed around at my watery tomb. Surrounding me were the bleached ivory treasures of her previous conquests; half-buried skeletons of men that had once tasted the same tempting kisses I still yearned for. My eyes settled back on her before the shadows of death finally took hold of me. A smile that reflected her own played on my lips as my last trace of consciousness drifted away and darkness engulfed me completely.