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Welcome to my blog, brought into existence because I believe in the power of stories. I hope you'll find a few things you like here. Let me know what you think and leave me any verdict, suggestion, challenge or request you want.

Contact: stories@hotmail.be
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Happy readings!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Notebook: a tale of four brothers (short story) - Update

Notebook: a tale of four brothers
Introduction
This is an idea I’ve been playing around with for at least some years now. I (semi-)specialised in (mainly Dutch) mediaeval literature during my training, so I’ve read my share of rhyming middle-Dutch romances with knights in them. When I read too many of them, this came pouring out. Especially the rhyming bits were inspired by it and so was the general ‘quest’ and the highly present narrator-figure, but I couldn’t string everything together and make out a beginning and an end. Now I might’ve. It’s already more of a series and who knows, maybe it’ll turn into a novel in the end.
I gave it a provisional title, because I had to call it something, but I might change my mind on that later. This is just a first draft so it may alter greatly. Let me know what you think and feedback and/or suggestions are very welcome. I guess I’ll adapt and expand as I go.
(note: this is the once updated version. I took out some spelling mistakes and, considering the helpful comments of Diego Green and Timothy, made an effort to distinguish between the siblings more consistently. Their character is to be developed a bit more in later parts, at least that is my intention. Hope you like it and leave any kind of constructive comments below. Thanks in advance)



PART 1: broken commandments
“A book is a mirror. When a monkey looks in, no apostle can look out.”
Georg Lichtenberg



“Don’t!”
“Oh, please, don’t be ridiculous, Michael.”
“Yeah, it’s just a book, for God’s sakes.”
“You know we’re not supposed to be up here.” The boy replied. “What if they find out?”
“No one is going to find out, you chicken and even if they do, it’s not like we’re wrecking things. There’s nothing else we can do with that bloody rain.”
“Dad will be angry!”
“So, I’ll tell them we made you come, now quit being such a pain and give me that book!”
Reluctantly, the boy let go of his clenched treasure, which immediately passed into three sets of hands at once.
As soon as they touched it, Michael saw a flash of gold appear on the cover.
“What’s that?”
It were apparently letters. In a shaky voice, he read aloud:
Reader, behold!
Another world, shall soon unfold...
“Let go of that book! It’s evil!”
“Did you fall down and hit your head?!”
“I’m telling you, there’s something wrong with it, look!”
“Look where, nutcase?”
“The letters, on the cover, they weren’t there before!”
“What letters? There’s nothing on the cover.”
He showed him the front of the book. It was blank.
“I don’t understand, I...”
“Nice try, kiddo!” The second youngest brother replied.
“I think he finally snapped, Edward.” His by five minutes older twin George added, dryly.
“Perhaps he just wants some attention.” The oldest sibling briskly ran through his younger brother’s hair.
“There, there, boy.”
“Cut it out, I’m not a dog, Robert!”
Robert clutched the book. He wiped the cobwebs off the cover and eagerly opened the volume. The three elder brothers coughed in the cloud of dust.
As soon as the manuscript lay open, a beam of violently bright light emerged from the pages to blind the siblings. They covered their eyes, but it burned through their eyelids. When they opened them, all had changed.
Michael got up from his squatting position and looked around in the filthy attic. They were gone! The book was on the floor, open, and his siblings had vanished.
“Robert? George! It’s not funny guys, come out? Edward, I know you’re in here!”
It wasn’t a joke. They had really disappeared. Confused, he staggered towards the manuscript and picked it up. The minute his fingertips touched its cover, it was as if a lightning bolt went through him. Electricity flowed into his body and he could feel smoke whirl up from his skin, his ears, his hair. In that instance, he ceased to be ‘Michael’ and became ‘Narrator’.
“Michael? Michael!” Three frightened voices called out from the book. The boy snapped out of his daze and answered.
“I’m right here!”
“Where?”
“In the attic, where else?”
“We can’t see you, you idiot. We’re in the damn book!”
“And we’re dressed like bloody knights!” Edward exclaimed.
“In the book?! How the hell can you be in the book?”
“How should we know? The darn thing’s got a spell on it or something.”
“But you can hear me?”
“YEAH. Get us out!”
“How could I possibly...”
“Well, what does the book say?”
“Good thinking.”
He went through the pages.
“Th... There’s nothing there, it’s empty!” He cried out.
What?”
“Wait, something comes up.” A black spot swelled on the page and formed into words, then sentences.
For the three to re-ascend,
the tale be spun until the end
“What is that supposed to mean?” Edward yelled.
“I think the book wants us to finish the story.” George replied pensively.
“What story? You heard Michael. There’s no text. We’re stuck here!”
“Guys! Use your brains and shut your waffles, will you?” Robert intervened. “Now why is Michael still up there, when we’re here?”
“He wasn’t touching the book.” George pondered.
“Yes, but that’s not all. The light was everywhere, it dragged us in here. There must be a reason for Michael to have stayed behind. I’m sure he can get us back. He’s our only link left to the real world.”
Robert took a few steps forward and cried up to the sky.
“Michael? Michael, can you hear me?”
“Yes, Robert, I can hear you, you don’t have to shout.”
“Micky, make up a tale to bring us home.”
“Okay, just a sec, uh... Three boys were taken in the book and... then they came back out.”
“Very good.”
“Nothing’s happening.”
“Why are we still here?”
“Think back to what the book said... Ah, that’s it. Michael, you have to make it rhyme.”
“Rhyme?”
“Just do it. Everything else rhymed.”
“Okay, I’ll give it a try. Let me see... What does the book-world look like.”
They were standing in a green pasture. Peaceful breeze played with the longer blades of grass. Birds were singing.
“Uh... Like a meadow. There’s really nothing special to see here.”
All of a sudden Robert noticed George on his knees in the grass, pushing his glasses up and mumbling to himself.
“It’s just impossible.” He picked some blades of grass and smelled them, feeling around. “It defies all reason. Maybe we fell asleep.”
“Three or four people, dreaming the same thing?” Robert raised an eyebrow and picked up a small pebble. “Dream this!”
“Aw!”
“Hurt, didn’t it? So far for your theory. Now get your ass over here!”
George fidgeted with his spectacles. He was nervous, straining his brain to make sense of the situation.
“We’re ready for you, Michael.”
 “Alright, let’s see... How’s this? The three boys, their lesson learned, to their home then returned.”
The pages from the book lit up as Michael scribbled the words into it.
“Michael, I think it’s working!”
Then Michael spoke again. Something came over him and settled like a white film over his eyes. His voice resonated through the alternate world, with a distinctive echo of another, speaking in chorus with him.
When fulfilled, they shall return,
first their lesson, they must learn.
“Michael, what the hell are you doing?!”
“It’s not me doing it, I swear! It’s like my lips move on their own.”
“Get a grip, will you?” Edward yelled.
“Stop harassing the boy, Edward, you heard him, didn’t you? It’s not his fault. He’s just as enchanted as we are.”
“George has a point, Edward.” Robert scanned the sloping land. “We may want to look around. We don’t know how long we’ll be down here, so we’ll need some place to stay when it gets dark.”
The trio made off. They soon came across a path.
“Maybe if we follow this, we’ll find a village or a house or something.”
The path quickly turned into a road, but still there was no person in sight and not a single building. After at least half an hour of walking, and wining on the part of the youngest boy who was not at all accustomed to hikes, they heard the sound of running water. They came across a mighty river.
“Oh, just great! Now how are we going to cross that?”
“Well, the current’s too strong to swim.”
“Let’s go looking. There must be a bridge somewhere. Hey, Michael, rhyme us a way to get to the other side.”
The siblings crossed plain and mound
till at long last, a bridge was found
“How’s that?”
“Brilliant, thanks, sport.”
Barely had they put a single foot on the bridge, when a deep voice bellowed.
“Who dares cross my bridge.” From the heavens, the narrator’s voice again resounded.
But for this bridge, there was a guard
who many knight before had marred.
With fists as rocks
he slaughtered flocks
of soldiers strong and brave
who to defeat him, crave.
“I don’t like the looks of this! Let’s get out of here quickly, before that guard shows up. We can just make it.”
“And what’s up with this guy’s grammar. Is he spastic?”
“Edward, do not, insult, the narrator...”
Be Robert’s attempt great,
to not insult, it is too late.
“Oh, crap, here we go, thanks a lot, Edward.”
The bridge started to pound under the feet of something big coming their way.
“God, I hope that’s just an earth-quake.”
And there they met a Dilgemesh,
a creature large and frightening,
who had a taste for human flesh,
and was as fast as lightening.
And there it was, stomping across the wooden overpass. It was at least six feet seven tall and two men wide, hairy and muscular, with filthy brown manes falling all the way down to the waist. Three eyes, it had and was a horror to behold.
“MICHAEL!”
“I’m trying, I’m trying, don’t push me!”
“We’re getting eaten down here!”
“Alright, alright, how’s this:
The Dilgemesh, the prince well knew,
is the weakest thing in all of Grover,
it would simply tipple over
if you but blew in its third eye,
so surely, it would die.
“Oh great, how could we possibly get to its eye?”
“Think fast, George, you’re the brainy one.”
“And where the hell is Grover?”
“You’re in it, Edward! I named it the land of Grover, it was the first name I could think of that rhymed.”
A small crown fell from the sky and landed before their feet.
“The prince has to do it.”
“Who’s the prince?”
“I don’t want to be the prince, not if I’d have to go fight that! Here, George, you take it.”
“What, me? Robert is the oldest, let him take it.”
“Fine! I’ll do it! It’s only fair.” Robert said.
The other two looked at him dumbfounded.
“What, are you mad? It will maul you!”
“Thanks for the confidence, guys. It warms my heart.”
“Well, it was good knowing ya.”
Robert took a deep breath and prepared to go into battle with the much larger creature that was coming their way. Edward grabbed his shoulder and pulled him back. He was relieved.
“Robert?”
“Yes?”
“Can I have your CD’s?”
Annoyed, he jerked free.

series of 100 words short stories, theme: bullying

Here’s another ‘100 series’, inspired by Scott’s blog. This time, they aren’t funny, or witty, but they’re not supposed to be. I hope you like them.
I. WHENG
He was always in the back of the class. Head low, silent, face hidden away in his palm. His clothes smelled funny. I’m sure that was what set it off. He said it was gasoline, an accident, we knew he didn’t wash them. Who doesn’t wash their clothes? It’s only plain courtesy not to stink, right? We didn’t know he couldn’t afford it, he never told us. We didn’t ask, but still. He kept smiling, no matter how bad it got. How could we possibly know he cried about it at home or that he would... It’s not our fault.
II. Cause He Loved Other Ellens
She looked at her reflection in the mirror and pulled up her shirt. Maybe if she lost a few pounds, she wouldn’t be so invisible then. Be more like everyone else. Not having to be ashamed in the locker-room. She knew they were laughing behind her back. Sometimes not even waiting till she turned her back either. She’d skip desert. And dinner. That way, she’d lose a pound by morning. Wouldn’t she? She’d be sure to catch his attention, this time. She ignored the distressed alarm signals from her stomach. She’d be so much thinner for it. So much prettier.
III. Mania
It was hurtful to see him come in. He was upset, it was all over his face, but he didn’t say anything, not a word. I had to hear from others, teachers, principals... It made me afraid to pick up the phone or go to that school, that office yet again and listen to the awful things they did to him. While not being able to do a single thing about it. I tried talking it over with him, but he kept his mouth shut, pretending everything was alright, hiding his intentions. That must be when he bought the gun.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Announcement: list of recent posts that aren't on this blog

Here’s a list of all the new short stories I’ve posted since ‘Peter is a cheater’, for those of you who’d like some more ;). I hope there are some of you out there, otherwise I’ve done a pretty poor job. I’ve decided to post them on my HubPages account – you get bad scores if you post your stories elsewhere too and I get more views there, somehow – but I’ll add titles, teasers and links here, so you can easily keep track of them. You can see the two blogs as complementary. When I get around to it, I’ll update the ‘poetry’ page on a more regular basis. That one is supposed to be exclusive for blogger, since only blogger always me to use whatever font and layout I want. However, due to the recent rise in traffic to this account – which I had been neglecting for total (!) lack of traffic – it was time for some updating measures. I’m going to try to keep this listing up to date.
Anyway, here are the posts, hot from the press:
On the corner (short story): minors are strongly advised not to read this one. I think you can guess the setting pretty much from the title: it’s set on the street corner, about a character doing what women do on street corners if they’re out to make a buck in a semi-legal way. I suppose that made you click the link, didn’t it? Don’t even have to give a real summary.
Humility (short story): this is a bit of a weird one and I don’t know what to tell you about it. It’s very short, so it will be no trouble to read it and make it out for yourself. I had originally believed it was just my own twisted little sense of humour that would not appeal to anyone shining through in it, but from the (be it few) responses I got, it’s apparently quite funny. Which is even stranger because I wasn’t trying to funny. When I did, I was the only one laughing about it. And here I was thinking my life on the internet would be different from my real life. Guess not...
The Witch of Dreiden (short story): I’m sure you never would’ve guessed, but it’s about a witch. In Dreiden. Just kidding, I don’t want to insult your intelligence. I really like this one myself, I think it’s my favourite up to now. Got good reviews too, so I’m not the only one. For those who’ve read more of my stories, this one is quite different all round, I believe. I was slightly inspired to  write it (though not exclusively) by the Queens of the Stone Age song Burn the witch. Hope you like it and let me know what you think.
Some of you may already have read the short story Beware on this blog. I mentioned in a comment to it that I was thinking of writing a prequel. Well, I did and this link is where you’ll find the complete two-parter. I hope it’s frightening. I love things that are frightening. Don’t you? If you do, click it. It’s funny too. I hope (see note above about intentional/non-intentional humour never working out for me).
100 WORDS:
Inspired by Scott’s blog, www.adayisworth100words.blospot.com (see blog list below), where he posts a story comprising of exactly 100 words each day, I tried the concept myself too. I find it fun to use and a great way to quickly improve your writing, since I’m not always successful in sticking to the point (don’t worry, I’ll learn. Someday). So far, I’ve posted the following two sets of four and three stories respectably to a certain theme. The first of the ‘restaurant set’ is actually featured on Scott’s blog as guest submission. Scott’s very good at what he does by the way, so I’d really recommend taking a look at his blog.
I suppose the titles pretty much speak for themselves.
Doggy bath time: a tale of dogs and why we love them (short story):  Last but not least, the most recent story. I dedicated this one to me dearly departed German Sheppard who sadly passed away last year. I still miss him every day, but it took this long to bring myself to write about (or rather based on) my wonderful time with him. He was such a wonderful creature. But he did have his ways. He was sweet and loving and caring, but also too smart and too strong-willed for all our sakes sometimes. I’m sure many dog owners will recognise a few things in this tale. And to all the rest of you, it will be plain entertaining. At least that was what I was going for. I’m ready to be judged.
So, that’s it for now. Let me know what you guys think.
All best wishes,
Stories Inc.
(By the way, I’ll be very glad if you tell me if – and you will undoubtedly – you find any spelling or grammar mistakes, so I can correct them and not look a total illiterate blabbering fool. Thanks already.)

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Peter is a cheater


“Don’t go.”
He touches her arm slightly as she stops at the open door. Why won’t she look at him?
She sighs.
“I have to. It’s over.” He gasps and falls to his knees. “I’m sorry.” She breathes. She means it.
He has no choice, it’s his own fault. All he gets to do, is watch her walk away. The door falls shut. He stands grounded, staring at it, processing what happened and hoping, praying she’ll chance her mind. That she’ll come back, but why would she?
Maybe if he called her and apologised. But he tried that before. What would he tell her? It’s useless. He dials the number anyway, it switches over to voicemail immediately. He flings the phone on the couch. It was to be expected.
Oh, what was he thinking. That she wouldn’t find out? Such a fool.
He switches on the TV and throws himself in his chair, zapping away brainlessly. All he sees are her pictures in his head. Her face, her smile. Her tears. Her screaming at him.
The doorbell rings. He springs up and darts at the door in a few huge leaps. She’s back!
“I... I heard what happened, Peter, I... I don’t know what to say. I’m sorry.”
She runs her hand through blond curls, the way she always did, which initially drove him wild, wild enough to fall for it. He wanted to snap, yell and ask her if she was happy now. It wasn’t fair to blame everything on her.
“Where is she?”
“Gone.”
“Her mother’s?”
“No one picks up the phone there.”
“Have you tried her cell?”
“Voicemail.”
She’s silent for a while.
“Do you have any idea where she might go?”
“Far away from me.”
“I’m so sorry. I know it was a mistake, I never should have tried to...”
“Damn right you shouldn’t have, with a husband and two young sons. But I was just as bad for responding.”
Tears well up in her eyes. He doesn’t care. Or does he? He’s almost ready to take her in his arms again and comfort her. Almost, but not quite. He’s hurt too much.
“So, uhm, can I have my bra back?”
Was that all this was about?
“Michael has asked about it. Wondering where it was. It was a wedding anniversary gift.” She stares down at her feet and scuffs. “I think he might be beginning to suspect something.”
He nods and strolls into the bedroom to fish it off the bed. Blasted thing. He gazes at it. Such an everyday piece of cloth. How could it have caused such disaster?
“Take care, okay?” She says. And vanishes back into the house next door. Covering up her tracks before the husband gets home. At least for her life will go on unchanged. He’s lost everything.
She won’t come back. Not ever.
He ambles into the kitchen, picks up a chair, the one she always sat in. The stairs would do nicely.
All that’s left now is the note. He gets his favourite picture of them together out of their album, they had spent hours putting it together and scribbles across the backside:
Peter is a cheater

Monday, 1 November 2010

What comes next? Can you help me finish this story?

Hi guys,

I've got some trouble with this story. I've been working on the last part of it for some time now and the first part is actually a dream-sequence from a novel I'm working on, that I mended a little to merge the two into one story. The thing is that I just can't figure out what comes next and I really want to find out. Can you help me?
Please, if you have any ideas, leave some suggestions, words, phrases, themes, actions you'd like to see in the continuation of the story and maybe I'll take them up and post the next bit. What kind of story would you like this to turn into? I hope you can help me out.
Let me know!

All best wishes,

Stories Inc.





Fog


A thick fog surrounds me. I don’t know where it comes from, smoke whirls up from every side. It wells up from below my feet, left, right, above, it’s choking me!
How did this happen? Where is everyone?
I stumble to the wall, it has to be here, how many steps have it been? Finally my fingers touch the cold, soggy bricks. If I just line it, I’ll find my way back, won’t I? I can’t remember where to go. I’m coughing, every gasp brings in more mist and no air. It’s damp in my mouth, my throat. It fills my lungs with dew.
I can’t see. Where am I? I hold my hands out like a blind person, but the street is empty. Help! I shout as loud as I can, but there’s no reply. Where are the others? Help! Can’t anybody hear me? Please! My desperate calls are swallowed by the nowhere around. I’m all alone.
Slowly, the mist lifts. I start to discern vague contours. There is a figure ahead of me, I can see it shimmer in the distance, as if it is beckoning me to it. Where did it come from? As if it resurrects itself from the murk. The sound of footsteps, calm and controlled, pounds in my head.
“Is... Is someone there?”
The figure moves through the white clouds. I creep closer, only a few steps, I need to see, then arch back.
A pale hand, white and cold as the fog, forms out of the mist and two cool fingers touch my temples.  and caress the side of my face along the cheekbones, all the way down.
I gasp.
“Who are you?”
We stand a few feet apart. My voice echoes through the silence. The miasma melts away and reveals two people alone in an abandoned alley. There is a distant laughter. Somewhere around a corner, in the light, there is a group of people passing by. Could I make it there, if I had to? But, do I want to?
“Who am I... Difficult question.”
He steps forward and a lantern gives his face a magical glow.
“Why are you following me?”
“Following you? Who says I am. Did you see me following you?”
She muses on it. No, she hadn’t even noticed him all night. Around her are walls, they’re closed in.
“What do you want?”
“Just have a little chat.”
“What about?”
“You have something I want.”
Something he wants? I don’t even know who he is."
“And what might that be?”
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