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Inner Demons

“You got it. That button,” he said to me.

I pressed the button on the stereo system. The 5CD player was a piece of innovation that I thought was incredible. It was the new big thing, he told me. I could see why. The music started to play.

I was around 10 when Dad came home with the system. To start its virgin voyage, Dad put five CDs into it and told me to hit that shuffle button without looking at what CDs had been placed into it. I sat down in front of the speakers and gazed at him. We’d had a CD player for about a year now, and all this music was not new to me. I grew up on it from LP to cassette and now CD.

Then we started a new game.

“I’m sailing away. Set an open course for the virgin sea,” it opined.

“Mel, tell me the song, artist, album and track number this is,” he said with a smile. He knew I would know. I had the memory of an elephant.

“Come Sail Away. Track 4 on Grand Illusion by Styx,” I said.

I’d heard it a hundred times before. When the whim caught him, Dad would pull out his keyboard and start trying to play it. He could get through about half the song before he couldn’t hear the keys enough anymore to get the notes. Dad was a pianist and singer. He could read music, but he also had this strange gift of being able to play from sound, too. From a very young age, he had encouraged all of us to find our inner artist. Though, he never had the patience to actually train us. But he still wanted us to find our passion.

Choose we did. It helped that mom sang and used to play French horn too. My brother sings, plays guitar, and some piano. He writes as well. My sister sings, played the clarinet, and showed great promise in art, too. And I sing, played flute (temporary oboist), and write (obviously).

It occurs to me now, though, that artistry comes with a certain level of insanity. I sat down yesterday to watch Amy – the documentary based on Amy Winehouse’s last ten years. Now, I never listened to her much when she was famous, but watching the doco made me realize something that she and many artists have in common.

Choose your poison. Whether it be music, art, or writing, you have to admit that a part of you is quite insane. Some fill that with their work, but many – and I mean many – fill it with substances. Alcohol. Pills. Drugs. Sex. Games. Life. Whatever it is, it becomes an all-consuming part of their existence.

I was lucky. I saw what substance abuse does to a person, and I have never been one of those people. I did have a nearly unhealthy addiction with gaming for a while there, so I was not completely immune. I know I have an addictive personality, and I work very hard to curb that.

But some do not. I watched Amy croon away. Even at her worst, she could still sing. And damn could she write.

She had no support network. Just as many people not famous do. She died from neglect. Her father and her husband both enabled her in some way.

I remind myself about how, on more than one occasion, I wanted to tell Dad that he was killing himself. But my fears were more in line with him driving his car into another. He drove when he was drunk. He had done it since I was young, and I remember bouncing in the backseat from the reckless way he drove. Every night he was out and I heard a siren, I imagined it was him. But then he’d come home.

I was a grown adult when he passed. Part of me believes that if I had said the words to him that he should stop he might have done it. But another part of me imagines he would have told me to mind my own business.

While I paid for everything, he had the kindness to not spend any of my money on alcohol, but after I left, he went back to his old ways.

He died sixteen months later.

He was 45.

 

But at that moment, I was ten, and life was simple. Dad and I sang along to the music. For half a day everything was perfect. For half a day, I was able to forget about Dad’s demons.

 

 

 

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Weekly Progress Update #6

I’m documenting my progress through my yearly goals. To recap, I made a promise to myself at the beginning of the year that I would write 500 words a day, finish my second novel by June, complete the edit on my current novel by May, 5 stories submitted for publication, 35 stories written of 500 words plus, and 20 books read.

This week I have not been as strong in my writing as I have been previously. In fact, I missed my mark by nearly 600 words. I’m going to work a bit more tonight on it. Part of that was due to writing the sonnet mid-week. I spent a full day writing it, so it took away from at least one day worth of writing. However, I was pretty happy with the feedback I received for it, and thus it was not a loss. I also lost time on reading this week. I started a book, but I was disappointed by how disinterested I was in it. I read 20% of it before deciding to put it down.

My husband has been away for nearly 3 weeks, and he gets back this week. Because of that, I think I’ll be able to smash some goals this week. Cuz I’ll have more time to write. So see this space next week! hehe

Writing Progress

Story/Book Words: 1251
Blog Words: 1649
Total Words Written: 2900
Book Progress: 2723
Stories Written: 8
Stories Submitted: 1

 

Reading Progress

Current Book: Horns by Joe Hill
Pages Read (Current Book): 48
Books Finished: 4 (On Writing by Stephen King, Rising by Shanan Winters, The Cellar by Richard Laymon, & The Martian by Andy Weir)

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The Beast Within – Flash Fiction

The edge of the dome of New Philadelphia inched closer with every turn of the wheel.

Collette drove her custom motorcycle down the main road. The bike was a combination of post-chem technology with twentieth century engineering.

No one drove the main road anymore, preferring to speed around in hover cars and private helis, but Collette loved the skill required to read the road. She had modified it to match 250kph speeds and relished the days that she was allowed to exit the domed city.

All must drive down this stretch of road to enter and exit the city. The immigration station was positioned on the lower levels to prevent the people in the slums from leaving. The dome was for their protection, after all, but they still managed to find a way out.

Collette slowed down at the gate and flashed her badge at the clerk. It sparkled in shades of gold and red, and the clerk jumped at attention. After regaining some composure, he waved his hand, “Go on.”

Collette released the throttle. The bike shot forward and reached 150kph within 2 seconds. The engine roared ferociously, and Collette allowed herself a smile.

She sped past a black mini tank and circled it twice for the fun of it before going back to the track. After 5 minutes of enjoyment, Collette slowed down and started what she did best.

Outside the dome, the world had become overgrown. Blades of grass were as tall as she was, and lurking within any patch could be any number of beasts. The sound of Collette’s motorcycle drove most away, though, and she was proud that part of that came from their knowledge of her.

20km away from the city, she finally caught sight of a clue. A piece of torn fabric fluttered along the grass. She slowed the bike, jumped off the seat to catch it, and landed on the ground in a somersault.

A scent was still fresh on it. It was definitely someone that used to live in the slums. They had a distinct odour. But this person had left, maybe a week or two ago. The outside air was persistent throughout. She smelled the brutal death, as well. Blood. And not in the fashion beknownest to creatures that inhabited this land. It was a crime of passion, not of need or survival.

Collette decided to park her bike beside a nearby tree. The sound of it might frighten her prey away, and she had been too lucky in finding the clue.

Armed with a multitude of weaponised devices, Collette entered the grass. She scavenged for clues – broken grass, scents, anything.

She continued for hours and found a pattern – a hunting circle. In the centre would be her prey.

Dusk settled. Collette saw a house within view. It was covered in vines and moss, but it was also a suitable den. She inched to the outskirts of the house and waited in the dense bush.

Blending in with near perfection, the only thing that could possibly reveal her location were her eyes. She waited. Her hindquarters crouched in anticipation, and her front legs were ready to pounce.

The wait would not be long. A single creak on wood echoed inside, and she knew her prey was on the move.

The grey wolf-like creature stepped out of the den. Its head inclined upward and sniffed the air. Its ears perked up, and it puffed out its chest into a howl.

With feline speed, Collette ambushed him. Her leap of three meters ensured she landed on top, pinning his stomach to the ground. Her arms and legs wrapped around, but he wasn’t going down without a fight. His paws touched the earth, and he bounded. Collette was not so easily lost, though. He whined and growled and tried to roll around to knock her off his back, but her grip was too strong. Flattening him onto the ground, she gnashed her teeth into his neck, and he cried. The cry sounded more human than wolf, and she knew she had managed to pinpoint his veins in the bite.

He slumped to the ground as the sedative took over his motor functions and rendered him useless.

Collette stood up and wiped the blood off her mouth. She crinkled her nose and spat out the remainder.

When she was convinced the horrifying taste was out of her mouth, Collette lifted her prey and tied him around her neck. She got down on all fours and sprinted for 5km before finding the main road where she initiated her global positioning beacon.

Seconds later, the black mini tank sped down the road and stopped just before it hit her.

“Nice work, as usual,” she heard.

Collette sighed, “As if you expected any less, Boris.”

She released the man-wolf with one hand and gave it to the men coming out of the tank.

“A little out of the way, isn’t it? How did you come upon this place?” Boris asked.

“Instinct.” Collette shrugged.

“It’s been fifteen days since he disappeared.”

“He had a hunting routine about 8km up the road.”

“Whatever, kitty cat -”

“Panther,” she growled.

“Whatever…. The boss wants to see you for another job.”

“Right-o… Tell Dad I’ll be there as soon as I get out of customs.”

The men loaded up in the mini tank. Collette watched as they sped away. Then dropped to all fours and sprinted back to her bike.

She wondered what would happen to the man. It wasn’t her job to prosecute those men or women that succumb to their animalistic urges, but she was responsible for finding them to ensure justice prevailed.

Collette pulled on her ears and stretched her tail. The backside of her arms and her back were a shade of black. She’d been born this way. Created in a lab in her father’s office. With every job, she wondered when she would become the hunted and no longer the hunter. Probably sooner than she hoped.

 

 

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The Enthusiast

al_forbes

Photo Source: Al Forbes

Harris Wells was startled as a strangely-dressed man ran towards him.

“Apologies, sir,” the man said with a puff, “but I must commandeer your time machine. It is a matter of great importance!”

He jumped into the cab of the car.

“T’is ain’t no time machine, boy. T’is a fully restored De Dion Bouton.” Harris yanked on the man’s arm. “And I ain’t letting ya take her none, neiver!”

The man shrugged him off and started the engine. The car spluttered into action. Seconds later, it disappeared in thin air.

“Well,” Harris said with a grunt, “I’ll be damned. T’was a time machine.”

 

 

This post, as always, is towards the Friday Fictioneers prompt, and I have been provided permission for the above image through the challenge. The prompt is simple. Every week, Rochelle, our fearless blogger-leader, posts an image and you have 100 words to tell a complete story. Great community with great writers; it’s a lot of fun too! Come join in the fun! 🙂

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The Race – a microstory

Delicate hands shift contour brushes, palettes, and lipstick across the vanity in a deliberate routine.

Another goes through the same process and asks, “What’s your drag -?”

Elsewhere, cheers silence the question.

Despite it, Chris answers in a deep contralto voice, “Lady Chrystel.”