Bwahaha, back again. Been a bit of a lull as I was busy doing other stuff, like having a good friend visit and then turning into a slightly older fart than I was before.
The idea for this story has been sitting in my head for a few years now, I just needed a spark for it (thank you First Line Generator thingy). I'm afraid its a bit fanboyish and probably wont make much sense to people who havent watched a certain series of movies, because it drops in a few references and such. I'll state for the record that I also took some liberties with the character of the boy, because I didn't feel particulary comfortable portraying him as he is/was in the movies.
The water looked deep and inviting. It was a brilliant blue-green, sparking in the sunlight and disturbed only by placid ripples in the breeze. It looked warm and pleasant, and Amy wanted to reach out and play her fingers through it. But something was wrong.
She realised she was standing on a wooden platform, a long jetty that stretched out into the lake. The surface was firm and smooth under her bare feet, not rough or splintered. Her white dress fluttered as she turned to look out across the lake. It was beautiful and quiet, ringed with dappled trees and somewhere birds were singing. Amy wanted to smile, to throw her arms out and bask in the sun by the water’s edge, but something didn’t feel right.
“Who are you?”
Amy jumped, surprised by the voice. A little boy was sitting right down at the edge of the jetty, dangling his legs over the edge and splashing his feet in the water. He was wearing baggy swimming shorts that seemed oddly dated, like something out of the old Government Information broadcasts.
“Uh, hello.” She started walking towards him, but he flinched as if afraid somehow and she stopped after only a few steps, “My names Amy. What’s yours?”
He looked at her sidelong, not fully turning his face. It gave Amy the impression that he didn’t want her to see him. He’d seemed to shrink away from her.
“Why are you here?” He spoke oddly, oddly sing-song and all in a rush. Amy sat on the jetty a few feet from him, dipping her toes into the shimmering water. It seemed to calm the boy a little.
“I don’t know, really.” Amy struggled to remember, “This is all strange. I was here before, I think, but it was cold, winter, there was snow everywhere. Not like this. I…I don’t remember how I got here.”
The boy was quiet for a long time, and Amy eyed him carefully. His earlier discomfort seemed to have faded, but now he seemed almost sad. He still hadn’t turned towards her but his head was bowed and he reached to brush back his straggly blond hair. He let out a sigh, briefly old and careworn for a child so young.
“I know why you are here but it is better if you remember yourself because then it will be easier for you to accept it.” That lilting rushed speech again. Amy closed her eyes, trying to focus.
“I was…I came to Forest Green County to see where my mother grew up. She’d said she’d lived near a lake here. I wanted to see it.”
“Your mother’s name was Tina she made me sleep once.”
Amy opened her eyes and stared at him, shocked. There was no way the boy could have known that. She didn’t take much after her mother, dark haired where she was blonde and a thin face compared to her mother’s wide, open smile. This boy couldn’t be more than six or seven, yet Amy’s mother Tina had passed on when Tina had been a child herself. It made no sense.
The boy turned his head to her, staring straight at her. It was strangely unsettling, for his face was perfectly symmetrical, making him seem almost doll-like, and his eyes…his eyes were so old compared to the rest.
“You are special just like your mother. Your mind is not fixed in your head.” He nodded, smiling at Amy, “That is part of why you are here but you must remember the rest.”
Amy nodded, knowing it was true. She’d been by a lakeside in winter, wrapped up warm against the cold, so why was she here now in the summer sun, with this strange little boy on the jetty? She looked out across the lake again, watching the trees on the other side as their branches swayed. She thought she could see some of those branches brushing the tops of a few, dilapidated cabins tucked away in the woods, rustic and almost hidden among the trees.
“I found the lake…and I came to look at it. I wanted to see if the old house was still there. I heard voices, shouting. There were people there, they’d come on motorbikes, I think…”
“Bad people come to the lake sometimes.” He interrupted, sounding sad again, but Amy barely heard him. She was struggling so hard to remember what had happened.
“They saw me I think. They thought I was watching them.” She gasped, “They chased me…and…one of them had a knife…” She felt sudden pain, sharp insistent agony in her chest and back and she clutched the sore places, looking down and seeing nothing but the white dress. “What…what happened to me?” She felt tears on her face, and huddled in on herself in the pain.
Small fingers reached into her own, comforting and warm, the little boy sitting down beside her, though she hadn’t seen him approach. With a careful, gentle touch, he lifted her chin and turned her face to look at the shore. Amy wailed in shock. She saw the body. Her body, lying in a patch of red-stained snow, so out of place in the summer setting.
“Bad people come here sometimes.” He whispered again as Amy wept. She felt his arms reaching out to encircle her, holding her close, so gentle and kind. The little boy just held her for a long, long time as she cried.
“Why?...I didn’t do anything…why did they do it?” Amy forced out the words between sobs, wanting to scream, the terrible truth hitting her even as she did it. Because they could.
“They will not get away with it.” Said the boy. His voice was firm and hard, older now than before, the sing-song quality fading with each word, “They do not know where they are. The name was changed. Bad people come to my lake, but I do not let them leave.”
He stroked her hair as he spoke. The birdsong became distant and unsettling, out of tune and discordant, the breeze across the water colder and stronger. Amy shuddered as the sun darkened on the lake, the shimmering going the colour of the snow patch she couldn’t bear to look at again.
“They changed the name so they could forget. They wanted to pretend this was somewhere else and that I never existed. But I am always here. This place wasn’t always called Forest Green,” His tone was oddly muffled, and dark and hard. Amy looked up at him and gasped. His face was gone, covered. His old, old eyes glaring out in hate at what had been done to her, from the eyeholes of a white hockey mask.
“They used to call it Crystal Lake.” Said Jason.
So...several days late, heres another First Line story. Pretty much the same rules applied as before, however I did have another agenda too. Mr P laid down a sort of challenge in response to the last one, namely that he'd like to see me write something where the main driving force of the story wasn't fear. The last two stories I've done this way have both had elements of fear to them, so I felt it was time to try to branch out and do something a little different. This one is the result.
Whats most interesting for me here is the way this story developed in my head. It started out as a ballroom scene, believe it or not. Also the ending was not quite as I thought it would be, and the motive behind those last lines were literaly created as I wrote them.
It was almost painful to look at her. It wasn’t that she was clumsy exactly, but neither was she graceful. Where the warriors around her fought with precision and the confidence of tightly drilled comrades, she soldiered on with more heart than skill. She’d carved out a small patch that was her own among the melee, her style of fighting unsuited to the shield wall tactics that her fellows were using. It was clear that she’d been part of that wall, but if she’d been separated by ill luck or by something she herself lacked, Arvin wasn’t able to say. Either way, his heart ached. He didn’t think she would last much longer.
That came as a surprise. The battle was desperate enough that he had his own problems. His shield and armour were dented and scarred and his arms were growing weary. The enemy were tenacious and skilled. The only edge Arvin could see was their lack of discipline compared to his own and those beside him. They surged forwards in ones or twos, not really coordinating their efforts and seeming more concerned with personal glory than the overall battle. That, more than anything else, was probably the reason she was still alive.
He was doing it again. His mind wandering. He caught his gaze seeking her out amongst the chaos, neglecting his own situation. She was still there, hunched behind her heavy shield and stabbing out from behind it, short, brave thrusts. At least she was holding her own. For some reason that made Arvin smile.
A heavy sword clattered off his shoulder and he stumbled back, swearing. He saw the eyes of his enemy glaring at him from beneath a heavy helm with a long nose-guard and hanging cheek plates. The two warriors exchanged blows, testing each other’s defences. Arvin felt almost saddened when he realised that his opponent couldn’t best him. He was brave enough, but his combat style was to individualistic. He was more or less on his own, while Arvin was flanked by his shield brothers. A flurry of efficient thrusts proved the enemy warrior had nowhere to go and he fell screaming.
She’ll go the same way. The thought was unbidden, and Arvin growled in irritation. He couldn’t work out why she was drawing his attention so. There were other shield-maidens with more ability and smoother grace fighting with him, women who seemed to dance through the melee as if it were a ballroom, forms and figures to take the breath away. He was hardly noticing them. Time and again his eyes were drawn back to that one lone fighter. He couldn’t work out why.
As he watched, her shield shattered under a brutal axe blow. She half-stepped, half-stumbled back, tossing the useless wooden fragments aside. At some point she must have lost her own helm, she shook her head defiantly and Arvin’s breath caught in his throat as her auburn hair glowed in the sun. She lunged under that swinging axe to bury her blade in the man’s gut. She was brave, there was no doubting that. She scooped up the fallen warriors own shield and called something to his companions. Damn, but she was brave.
It was all so pointless. That was the problem. That was the thing that Arvin couldn’t shift from his mind. He wasn’t even sure why they were fighting. As the day wore on, the battle ebbing and flowing, he became convinced that there was no need for it. They were struggling across this bloody field, fighting and dying for some reason so obscure that the Captains and Heralds all seemed dispirited by it. Most likely it was over some slight, imagined or otherwise. Arvin had seen his Lord sent out warbands and armies over matters that seemed nothing short of trivial. It was such a waste.
The enemy weren’t that much different, really. At least this time they were men and women, rather than the bestial things from the North. They fought with the same grim determination that Arvin saw on the faces of his comrades. No doubt they had the same issues with that stupid battle that he did. Did they know why they had been sent to fight? Had they been told? What honour was there then, in that?
Arvin’s sword arm ached and his shield arm was almost numb. His unit had broken another charge, the enemy soldiers crashing against the shields and stabbing swords like water against a reef. At some point they’d drawn back and called up their archers and things had gotten bad. Arvin’s shield wall had broken and the fight had devolved into a maddening throng where nearly everyone was a threat. He struggled to reach his friends, cutting down soldiers from the other side who were trying to do the same.
A spear tip crashed through his shield. A few inches lower and it would have impaled his arm. He struggled to pull away and was struck by the absurdity of it. He could see his assailant yanking on the spear haft, trying to get his weapon back into play. He felt like laughing. A sudden blade fell from his left, for a brief second he thought it was over and then the spear was broken, the blade chopping through it, and then the enemy soldier’s neck, and Arvin looked into her eyes as she nodded a wordless greeting. Her eyes were wide and deep brown.
Up close, she wasn’t that pretty. Arvin didn’t care. She glowed in his eyes. He could see grace in her that better soldiers had lost. Her movements as they fought side by side were not skilled, but they captivated him all the same. At some point she threw him a smile, during a lull in the battle, and Arvin was lost.
From that point on when he raised his sword, it wasn’t for his Lord, or for his comrades, or for his honour.
It was for her.
Am totally stealing this idea from a friends blog. The idea being to take the first line of a story idea from an online generator and "flash" write whatever comes to mind. She's been doing ten minute posts, but since I'm a slower writer I decided to make it 30 minutes for me. I'm not used to sprint writing. The other excuse I have is a collie who wants to play. Either way this is the what I came up with this time. Its unedited, except for spelling, and I stuck to my time limit.
First Line Friday: The Sound Of Breaking Glass Stopped Her
The sound of breaking glass stopped her. It meant they were coming.
She skidded and stumbled, kicking up dust on the road, almost going down on her hands and knees as she moved, scrambling into the shade beside an upturned truck. It was too open and she knew she’d have to move. Get to cover. Hide.
The sound came again. It was a painful, cracking, tearing, clinking noise. The sound of splintered glass, like a fist through a window. She flinched, peering out round the ruined cab of the truck. They could be anywhere. She couldn’t tell how close they were, all she knew was that they were coming, because she could hear the glass.
She pulled herself up and ran towards a building, dodging past the corpse of a car and trying not to look at the remains inside. Her footsteps seemed so loud, echoing round the street. She vaulted the the hole in the wall were the window had been and hunkered down. She needed to think and there wasn’t much time to do so.
None of the buildings had windows anymore. There wasn’t a scrap of glass left untouched in the whole city, as far as she knew. They liked the glass, it was all angles and reflections, somehow perfect in their strange, unknowable minds. She’d seen what they left once they were done with it, just grains, glass rendered to sand or dust. They used it until it was too broken and ground up to still have whatever they considered as value, then they’d leave it and go seeking some other source. That was the only chance she had. She had to keep moving and avoiding them until they had to leave their glass bodies. Not much chance, but enough.
The noises were coming closer, she could hear them over the wind that moaned through the skeletons of the buildings. She stayed low, and crawled further into the building, away from the street.
No one knew where the hounds had come from. None of the survivors she’d met had any idea what had really happened, and as their numbers dwindled the chances of anyone realising got smaller and smaller. She was glad of that, in some way. Bad enough to know the truth and be the only one who knew, but it would have been worse for others to know when they looked at her. Bad enough to know..bad enough to be responsible.
She should have smashed the crystal when she’d had the chance. The Shining Trapezahedron. She’d been so stupid, so convinced of what she thought she knew that by the time she learned the final, awful truth it was too late. She knew nothing, understood less. Some doors should not be opened, some windows should not be looked beyond. When your reflection looks back at you from the time yet to come, its already too late.
For a long time she’d wondered why they hadn’t just killed her or dragged her back to whatever far flung epoch that they hunted from. Their first steps into the world had been shocking and brutal and intensely violent. Humankind did so like to use glass. Windows, roofs, ornaments, mirrors. The hounds liked to use it even more, and had shown their victims what they liked to do with it.
Even then, the hounds hadn’t touched her. At first it had seemed like chance, simple dumb luck. Then, as the dying continued and the stragglers of humanity had dwindled, picked off one by one, she realised what they were actually doing. Playing.
The hounds were going to take her only when there was no-one else left.
She scrambled up the stairwell. Running almost on all fours, she moved fast and hard. For a brief, horrible moment she was reminded of how the hounds moved, but she was also reminded of when she’d been a girl, so desperate to get up the stairs in her parent’s house that she’d used her hands as well as her feet. Just walking up, like everyone else, had seemed to take too long. Now she didn’t have time to walk. The hounds weren’t slowed by stairs, when they bothered to use them. Sometimes they just used the walls.
The screech of tortured glass echoed somewhere below her, which meant they were following her up. She quickened her pace, panting in fear. Her hands were slicked with sweat and she slipped on the dirt streaked floor. They barked and howled below her, brittle noises like shattering windows.
She got to the top floor and kept going, heading to the roof. She clambered past the shreds of a person, gagging at the smell and the way they’d been…spread. Whoever they’d been, they must have been trying to get to the roof too. A hand was still attached to the handle of the access door. She kicked the door open rather than touch it, and as she moved past she thought she eyes of that skull followed her. You did this, they accused. She got out onto the roof, wind tugging at what remained of her clothes. It was then she realised her mistake. They weren’t just following her.
They were waiting for her.
I'm seeing a ton of stuff I'd like to change here. Foremost being theres a lack of description. I'd like to put in more visual stuff to let the reader get the scene in their minds eye. It also seems unfinished to me, but there WAS a time limit and I stuck to it. I would love to describe what one of these hounds looks like. All in all, im happy with the idea as it developed though.
So, now I have a title for my story. Or, to be more accurate I should probably say "working" title. Its something to go on, at least. So, for now, the story is called "Pawprints". I'm not sure why but I sort of like it, and it seems to fit.
Also, interestingly...(well, for me), the scene that I thought was going to start off the story isnt going to start it off at all, and now the starting scene involves two totally differant characters. Who are busy writing themselves in my head...arguing actually...and I'm almost wary about starting to type out the scene in case they really go to town once they get onto the page. So if you hear about a freak disappearance of a wannabe writer in Lanark, IT WAS THEM WHAT DID IT!!!!!
Its started, it seems. The scratching and clawing on the inside of my head, in the nooks and crannies...where the ideas breed. All it took was getting a light thump on the arm, I guess...
Ideas are forming. Slowly, surely and, as usual, in no particular order. I have an opening scene, or at least the seed of one, yet I also have a scene that I don't know where it should go and at least two conversations between characters taking shape. I haven't really done anything. I've only just started reading the books Kai loaned me, I only know about three of the characters (and only two of those by name) and I don't even know where the story would be going yet. That doesn't seem to be making much of a differance to the melon on my shoulders, though. While walking round the supermarket, buying dinner, my brain stumbled on a little piece of lore for this fictional, not quite fantasy/not quite reality, world in my head. Its a small detail, and its not exactly unsullied originality, but it fits, and one of the scenes I've been pondering has changed drasticly because of it.
One thing is for sure, its nice to be able to think about something other than the emotional hurt of recent weeks. I'm not saying the black mood has lifted, but it has to fight for dominance in my thoughts now, and thats a step forward, yes?