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.
-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.
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.