Flash Fiction Reading – Test Run for sound quality and embedding.

I HAVE GIVEN UP! THERE WILL BE NO EMBEDED AUDIO, BUT THERE IS STILL A LINK TO THE STORY BELOW. PLEASE CLICK THE LINK AND GIVE IT A LISTEN. MAYBE OPEN IT IN ANOTHER WINDOW SO YOU CAN STILL READ ALONG. OR DON’T. IT’S UP TO YOU. I’M GOING TO STOP SHOUTING NOW.

So, I think I’ve got all the bugs worked out now. I’m ready to post a recording of one of my stories. Keep in mind that this is the first time I’ve ever performed a piece of work, not to mention my first time dealing with audio recording software as a medium. Personally, I think that my microphone is too sensitive and needs a filter or something to cut down on the non-verbal noises (swallowing, chair creaking, etc…).

Still, let me know if you like what I’ve done. I’ll practice the next story a bit more before posting. I just wanted to do a test run. This way, if it doesn’t work out, or I need to make changes, I won’t have wasted a lot of time and effort.

Criticisms are always welcome. That includes comments about the story itself, my own reading, or the sound quality. In the future I hope to add some more to the tracks. Maybe some ambient music or sound effects. We’ll see. For now, let me know what you think.

And for those long time readers of my blog, this story was part of Day 18 of my November Writing Challenge. To date it is my favorite piece of flash fiction I’ve written, so I thought it deserved some special treatment. I’ve copied and pasted (and edited) the text of the story below. Feel free to read along as you go.

Thanks,
~EW

-edit- Okay, fuck it. I’m tired. I will just drop a link to a place I uploaded it to the webbernet and you can listen to it there. I wanted it to be all sleek and junk, just a click of a button, but whatever. This works too. I will figure out how to embed the file later. Let me know what you think, thanks.

Upload Music – Embed Audio Files – skeletons

 

Skeletons
By E. W. Morrow

The barrel of the gun doesn’t taste like I thought it would. Before now I always thought it would taste like pennies. Like waking up with a nose bleed. A warm, coppery flavor that churns your gut, makes you want to puke. It’s not. For one thing the barrel is cold, which I suppose is a good thing. It means he hasn’t fired it recently. Instead of pennies or blood the taste of the hollow steel rod wedged in my mouth reminds me of the icicles we used to break off of the garage door and lick like lollipops when we were kids, the ice loaded with dirt and other impurities from the gutters. The only thing I can think of, even with the gun’s sight digging into the roof of my mouth, the edge of the barrel clicking against my teeth, is what impurities were left in the metal when it was smelted and whether any of them would make me sick. I really can’t afford to get sick right now.

“Tell me where it fucking is or I will blow your fucking head off,” the man whispers in a coarse, angry voice through a cheap balaclava. The cloth might be enough to conceal his face, but it does little to hide the way his voice shakes when he speaks.

He won’t pull the trigger. Not yet. Not because he sounds like a coward, which he does, or because I still haven’t told him what he wants to know, which I haven’t, but because he still hasn’t cocked the gun. The hammer is still snug against the cylinder. Now, it’s possible that the revolver is double action, in which case he doesn’t need to draw the hammer back to fire, but even if it is, he won’t. Nobody ever does. They like that moment. Pulling it back, hearing the click, watching the victim’s eyes widen in terror as they get that much closer to death. But it works both ways, and Mr. Balaclava here isn’t the first I’ve had to deal with. God help me, but he probably won’t be the last, either. He’s just like all the rest, still clutching firmly to his little security blanket: the knowledge that he can still raise the stakes without actually committing the final crime. He’s pathetic, and I really don’t have time to deal with this right now. So I decide to give him what he wants to know.

I glance over at my closet door. It’s just a simple door. Brass knob, unpainted surface, scuffed around the edges where I’ve banged things into it over the years. Not even a lock. I mumble something through the barrel that I hope Mr. Balaclava will understand as “in the back,”. Whether or not he does I’m not sure, but he seems to get the gist of the message.

“Back up against the wall,” he says, removing the barrel from my mouth. “Slowly.”

Fine by me, I think. I wouldn’t go near that door now even if he’d put the gun to my head and made me open it myself. I do as he asks, sliding myself across the carpet so that my back is against the far wall. Balaclava moves cautiously towards the door, only glancing at it as he tries to make sure I won’t bolt the second his back is turned. No need to worry about that, but I don’t let him know. He’s doing just fine on his own. Groping fingers meet cold metal as he fumbles for the knob. He grips it firmly and then looks at me one final time.

“Make a move, try to scream, just fuck with me even once…” his voice trails off and he ends the sentence by cocking the gun. Idiot. “You got it?”

I simply nod in agreement. He turns to face the door, pulling it open easily. The space behind the closet door, which is only a closet during the day, is even darker than the rest of the room. The doorway is just a frame around a pool of total blackness.

“Where is it?” Balaclava asks.

“In—in the back,” I say, only partly feigning fear. If this doesn’t work, we’re both dead. “Bot—bottom left. In a shoe box.”

He makes it a step before it happens, only partially engulfed by the tangible darkness of the space behind the closet door. Something inside let’s out a sound that is halfway between a growl and a laugh. It’s a dusty, hard sound. Full of menace. A split second later two points of orange light spark to life in the darkness, and a pair of long, bony arms reach out and grab Balaclava. The fingers are long and sharp, they leave trails of red across the man’s back. The arms themselves are just a few scraps of flesh and cloth covering pale white bone.

That’s all I see. By this point I’ve managed to grab the blanket from my bed and throw it over myself like a tent. The thing in the closet can’t see you if you have your head under the covers. It’s something every child knows. There’s a brief, muffled scream from the other side of the room and then a wet, sloppy sound. I hear the revolver, still unfired, thump to the carpet, and a second later Balaclava’s body hits the floor.

The thing steps out into the room. I can hear it clanking from beneath the blanket. I imagine it looking around, sniffing with the holes on it’s face where the nose should be, grinning that eternal grin. Then I hear a shuffling noise as Balaclava’s body is dragged into the space behind the closet door, and then the door shuts. I wait a minute before I take the blanket off.

I stand up, get the gun from near the foot of my bed where it tumbled after being dropped, and take it over to my desk. I pull out the bottom drawer, disengage the hammer, and chuck it in with all the others. From behind the closet door I can hear the sounds of chewing and I sigh as I realize I won’t be getting back to sleep. Tonight’s little episode has left a bad taste in my mouth. Like pennies. Dawn is still a few hours away, but by the time the new sun rises, I’ll have one more skeleton in my closet.

The Crack in the Sky (Horror Story)

So, here it is, a new story from a new me (according to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and the laws of entropic decay, I am always a new me. TAUTOLOGY BITCHES!).

For those of you who are wondering what my writing process is like, this story is a pretty average example (If you don’t care to listen to my humorous rant, please scroll down to the actual story). I start by sitting at my desk for several hours, doodling, jotting down sentences and ideas and scratching most of them out. I enact several focused browsing sessions of the internet to spark inspiration, all of which fail. I try to challenge myself to write about the first thing that comes into my head, and then I call my bluff and scratch that idea out like all the other ones. Eventually I get to the point where my hands and eyes are moving of their own accord, scribbling and scanning and typing all without the guiding force of thought behind them. My mind wanders, adrift on a misty sea of whimsy. Then, the anchor of reality, always left dangling, catches on something and I flip to a new page, still thoughtlessly, and then I stare at the paper. Mind and body become one again and I write down a sentence. It’s a pretty good sentence. It has a solid premise, emotional or intellectual weight, and a hint of mystery. Then I write a second sentence. At this point the idea is not yet solidified, and so the second sentence usually heightens the mystery, forcing the reader to ask “what does he mean”, not knowing that I don’t yet know myself. But it’s interesting, so I decide to find out. By the end of the first paragraph I’m flying, pen scratching as fast as it can to set down the ideas looming out of the mist before they’re lost again. About an hour later I’m 2/3 to 3/4 of the way done with the story, and I stop writing. I leave the story for a few hours, maybe a day, and then I come back to it. At that point I pick up the story and start typing, doing edits and rewrites as I go. When I get to the part where I stopped, progress slows and I perform a series of mental checks, guiding the ship (yes, I know that the ship was a metaphor for my mind, well now it’s a metaphor for the story. I like boats, deal with it) towards the conclusion I want. Personally, I think that this is makes my endings a little weak, a little less….sincere, perhaps, than the rest of the story. I’m working on it. Then I copy and paste it into this here text box, slap an introduction on it and hit post. Then I usually re-read the story and fix any spelling mistakes I couldn’t be bothered to fix before.

And that’s what I do.

TL;DR — That was a long winded way of saying several hours of doing nothing followed by short periods of frenzied activity and some editing.

I hope that chunk of text hasn’t put you off the story. I think this one’s pretty good. Not my best, but definitely something I’m proud of and am glad I spent hours working on.

I want to give you some warning about it….but that would…..really ruin it. So….I’m not going to. Needless to say if there is any subject you are extremely averse to, think twice before reading. K? K. Here we go.

The Crack in the Sky
By, E. W. Morrow
Word Count: 1247

There was a crack in the sky, a jagged, immobile void, black as sin. It wasn’t hanging in mid air, or floating. It wasn’t swimming or sailing or sitting or flying. No words could describe what it was doing there. There was no doing to be done, only being. The crack was, and that was all it was.

If April had to choose something for it to be doing, though, she would have said it was gaping. As she watched it, a blue jay flitted through the air and flew across the section of sky that the crack occupied. The avian outline became fuzzy, indistinct, and April wasn’t quite sure if the bird had passed behind, in front of, or through the crack, or all three at once, but it never made it to the other side. Not even a single, depressing feather fluttered to the ground. The crack was, and the bird wasn’t. That was the way things were now, and how they would always be.

April’s expression didn’t change as she watched the total annihilation of another living thing. There was no slack-jawed stare of amazement and fear, no sour grin of bitter joy, and no useless gasp of sorrow. Her pale, plain features remained as cold and steady as a frozen pond, a brittle echo of the early winter that had fallen since the crack had first appeared. She only turned away from the void and set about her task.

What did it matter, she wondered as she slung the rope over a stout looking branch of the old oak tree, if no one else acknowledged the crack, the unraveling of reality, looming above them? Should she care if no one else seemed to notice the absence of songbirds, of the lingering heat of autumn? As she gripped the dangling rope firmly in both hands and heaved, hoisting the burden at the other end that outweighed her by nearly fifty pounds with nothing more than grim determination, she wondered if anyone else woke up in the middle of the night, tears running down their cheeks, suddenly realizing that they missed the comforting glow of the light of the moon, taken that first night the Crack had appeared.

By the time the deed was done and she had lashed the end of the rope to the stake she had driven into the ground at the base of the old oak tree, April was coated in a thin layer of sweat and still had no answers to her questions. There were no answers. If there were, then they were behind, or inside, the Crack itself, and anything that went there ceased existing. All she could do now was get rid of the questions.

April closed her eyes as she tied the last knot, taking care not to ruin everything with a misplaced glance. As she stood she knocked her head on one of the bastard’s sneakers and she cursed herself for not hanging him a few inches higher. The body swayed and bumped into the back of her head as she moved between it and the Crack in the sky. It was almost over. She just had to line things up. Make everything perfect.

With the body and the tree behind her, she opened her eyes and scanned the sky. When the crack gaped at her from its perch she breathed a sigh of relief: she had positioned herself perfectly. She took several wide steps to her left, away from the body, and then several steps back, never taking her eyes from the crack in the sky. A wispy nimbus cloud drifted in front of and behind and through it and was partially swallowed into nonexistence. Another step back and another to the left, and she was in position. There was the crack, gaping wide for all the world to ignore, and there was the body. They were not yet overlapping. April squatted down, lowering herself first to her knees then to all fours, until the crack and the corpse’s shoes were both at the same height. Then she stopped and looked at the hanging corpse one final time.

He looked much the same in death as he had in life: face slack and devoid of intelligence, plaid shorts wrinkled and unwashed, ball cap on backwards, cocked at a strange angle, over his greasy brown hair. The only differences were the purple splotches all along one side of his face and limbs from where what had remained of his blood had pooled and congealed during the two days the body had spent in the trunk of her car and the reddish brown stain engulfing the baby blue polo shirt he’d been wearing when she’d slashed his throat.

That last bit, April admitted, had probably been overkill. Three nights ago she had broken into his beloved Mustang, slashed the leather seats, and set a fire in the center console, but not before stealing his stash of roofies, most likely the same one’s he’d used on her. The next day she had emptied the lot of them into his drink. The resulting OD had probably killed him, but slitting his throat had seemed so—right. A violent penetration to make up for a vile one.

The night three weeks ago when he’d drugged her, the last warm night of early autumn, was the night the crack in the sky appeared. She’d woken from her stupor just in time to see the last cool, gentle rays of moonlight disappear into the leering, hungry jaws of the terrible hole above her. Then the light was gone, leaving her alone and on her back on the side of a dirt road, ripped underwear dangling from one ankle, the buttons of her blouse popped loose and lost amongst the weeds, watching a pair of tail lights vanish around a bend in the road. On the long, terrible walk back to town she found herself wishing that her tears would fall up and into the crack, into the nothing, rather than down to the dusty soil. But they didn’t.

And if the crack in the sky couldn’t take from her the things she hated, she was going to throw them in herself.

That was her final thought as she leaned back, up onto her knees, and then slowly stood, dragging the crack across the hanging body by shifting her perspective. Where body met blackness, nothing remained. Shoes and shorts went first, followed by shirt and stain. Finally, after nearly a minute, all that remained was the head. It swayed gently as a cold breeze drifted past. With each pass of it’s pendulum arc a tiny sliver of man disappeared. When it stopped, April narrowed her eyes and spat in the thing’s eye, a final act of desecration, and then stood up straight. The head vanished, and all that was left was a painful memory.

As April retrieved the rope and coiled it around one arm, hooking it around the elbow and palm to make several large, manageable loops, she stared at the crack in the sky long and hard. It didn’t look much different but she thought that, just maybe, it looked a little bit smaller than before. It still gaped at her, in front of and behind everything, all around and always there, an all consuming emptiness she could never forget, but maybe after enough time had passed, after she’d thrown enough into the black, the hole could be full once again.

Possible ideas for the future.

Hey all. As always, sorry for the gap between posts. I have a story to put up today, but I’m going to keep that post separate from this one. This is a sort of announcement/voting post and I thought it deserved it’s own space.

So, for those of you who either A) don’t know me, or B) haven’t picked up on the fact from my posts, I have a pretty extensive background in theatre and performance. It’s what I’m certified to teach, and it’s something that I love. Going from that, I think I’ve decided to make audio recordings of some of my stories. Just for fun, to test out how I do, learn some stuff, maybe even create a catalog of work for breaking into voice acting some day. I dunno, not thinking that far ahead just yet.

So, that being said, are there any stories you’d like to hear read to you? Any stories you think would be improved by a vocal performance. I’m already thinking I’ll start with “Human Resources”, but if there’s others people would like to hear, I’d love to find that out.

Anyway, let me know. I’m still doing research into recording software and audio file embedding, so it won’t be for a while yet (a few weeks, maybe) until I start. Just thought it’d be a fun little idea to expand my hobby.

Thanks.
-E W