SETTING: Suspense is building, and the stakes are high. Your character must hurry up before it is too late.
3 HIGHLIGHTS: (include): a noise, something behind a closed door or a blocked pathway, and uncertainty until the very end
SUBMISSIONS: Submit your story below
WORD COUNT: 750-1,500
DEADLINE: Always due on the 25th of each month.
3 OPTIONAL PROMPTS TO GET YOU STARTED:
1.) Your character notices that one of his or her keychains is missing. It was a special keychain from a collection. Your character has collected quite a few keychains from places where he or she vacationed. The only suspects are a friendly neighbor boy who cuts the lawn, a nice cleaning lady, a responsible dog walker, and your character’s own family member. Whodunnit? Who is the troublemaker?
2.) Your character is a teenager with two younger siblings. Their parents have died. You decide which long lost relative arrives to take care of them. After a series of unusual pranks from the relative, your character must find a new caretaker. Will they ever trust anyone?
3.) Your character used to be the mayor of a town. The town attorney wrongly charged him with obstruction of justice. The county judge banished him to live in the forest. He began to build tiny homes and sold many to people from faraway places, gaining wealth. The attorney and judge fear he will return with vengeance to rule over them. You decide if your character can win his hometown. You decide if the main trickster is a barber, banker, realtor, or landscaper.
You can find additional optional conflicts on pages 139-140 in “Writers 750 Emerald Workbook,” written by H.M. Schuldt.
3 ITEMS THAT MUST BE INCLUDED
1.) A noise
2.) Suspense: uncertainty until the very end
3.) Something behind a closed door or a blocked pathway
Types of cliffhangers include the following: a loss is identified such as a lost relationship or a lost shelter; a dangling carrot is something desperately wanted but out of reach; a glimmer of hope with a slim outlook, an almost impossible situation; a physical threat of someone in immediate danger; a ticking clock with a sense of urgency before a deadline; an accident with unknown consequences, unknown results; unexpected news with possible trouble ahead; and an unanswered question is the most common cliffhanger.
A story map is helpful for the writer to know where he or she is going with the story. A story map is more involved than a basic tradition of introducing a conflict, developing rising tension, reaching a climax, and ending with a resolution. A story map begins with a hook that draws the reader in. A conflict is introduced which creates a turning point. Rising action is developed; what is at stake? Obstacles get in the way; a sense of urgency is felt leading up to the climax. Falling action wraps up the story and leads into a good ending.
Noises can add suspense to the story at just the right time. For example, a ticking clock might remind the reader that the character better hurry up and get something done before something bad happens. A countdown can also remind the reader that the character is in a race against time before something is permanently lost. You can use a certain noise throughout the story to signify the need for conquering a dilemma. At night, a noise can add suspense. A clink, bang, whistle, or music can add curiosity. Other noises include: a knock, footsteps, creaky door, TV, saw, cupboard shuts, window opens, humming, static, snapping twigs.
WORKSHOP GUIDELINES – Skip over this section if you are familiar with the Writers 750 Program.
GENRE: Fantasy, Thriller, Sci-Fi, Mystery, Crime, Comedy, Romance, or a mixture (No erotica)
The main purpose of this workshop is to practice the skill of writing fiction, explore conflict and character development, write a new short stories, and receive good feedback.
RULES & DIRECTIONS –
• Type in English – a minimum of 750 words; a maximum of 1,500 words
• Post your title and word count total in the first line of your story posting.
• ONE entry per person, must be the writer’s original work, a final revision, and a new piece of writing. No multiple submissions. Make sure to post your final revision.
7 replies on “NOVEMBER NOISES 111”
Awards and winning story from November Noises short story contest:
Checking on the Noise from the Neighbors by F. F. Burwick
Best Surprise – Alien Plant
Lies by Sharon Willet
Redemption Moon Part 2 by Paul Ahnert
Songs of Love and Death by Arthur Chappell
Best Sirens at Sea
A Desperate Man by Mirta Oliva
Best Crime – Victim and Perp
Noises in the Night by Terry Turner
Best Suspense in an Old House
Winning story goes to
Lies by Sharon Willet
Congratulations on a job well done!
Thank you, everyone, for posting a story!!
I enjoyed reading your stories.
Hope to see you again this month in December Emeralds!
I’ll get December Emeralds posted up soon!!
Checking on the Noise from the Neighbor’s Home by F. F. Burwick (1148 words)
Isiron lived in a spacious home attached to that of his neighbor, Gerald Thorensar, in a duplex. Isiron was yet engaged, without a set date, with Isiron’s fiancee, who Isiron went to see more often than she came to this home. Isiron’s neighbor Gerald who had lived there much longer was widowed, one year ago, and he lived in that other home alone since. Isiron chatted at times with Gerald outside around the shared entrance into the front hall of the duplex, but only there, and there were no visits to one another’s home. And the neighbor was quiet enough to never be an issue.
This weekend went by without Isiron seeing that neighbor Gerald at all, which was a little unusual. That evening at the end of Sunday, there was a noticeable sound that was like a creaking noise, from Gerald’s home. After that went on for a moment, there was a sound of a thump, then there was only silence after that.
Isiron was worried then. Was Gerald at home at all? Was his home broken into while he was gone? Or maybe he was home, and had some accident happen. But the sound of that creaking noise could have been anything else, which Isiron could not think of. Maybe Isiron should do something. But what should be done about this noise that could not be identified. Should Isiron go knock on Gerald’s door, to check on him? What if Gerald was not at home and it really was someone who broke into that home?
Isiron decided to go across the hall outside Isiron’s home to his neighbor’s door, and knock. But the thought of some criminal in there who had broken in disturbed him. Isiron did not have a weapon to arm himself with. But Isiron had a bat, he remembered, so he could carry that with him, and be sure to use it and strike first if someone other than Gerald answered the door then.
Isiron carried the bat along, readied to strike, across the hall to that door, and knocked. Isiron waited then.
Some time went by with nothing happening and there was only silence on the other side of the door. Finally Isiron was more concerned than cautious, and he called out, “Gerald, are you there?!” But Isiron tensed the right arm to strike immediately once it was seen someone other than Gerald answered at the door. But still nothing happened. Isiron felt at the door, but sure enough it was locked. Isiron would not get in that other home without breaking the door down, it seemed. And Isiron did not even see how that would be managed. But then Isiron thought of going outside, and checking the windows on Gerald’s side.
Isiron went back and brought his keys out, and locked his home up, and went with this bat outside the duplex to the front, and then to the side of it on Gerald’s side, as he went he looked in from the dark outside through windows that he passed. There seemed to be a nightlight on inside Gerald’s home, giving the home some amount of light. Then he came to a window that seemed slightly open. Isiron thought, that is just how anything, or anyone, could have gotten in.
Then Isiron saw this thing, right nearby to him outside this window. It was like a tree. But it had just moved. Isiron jumped away, as a limb from this tree being struck out right by him. Isiron hurried back to the corner to the front, looking back in the dark area by the side of Gerald’s home. Whatever that was it was still remaining there, while Isiron could still discern movement of the limb.
Just then Isiron saw someone walking along the side of the street in front, and that person now came in this direction. Isiron saw then it was Gerald, carrying a bag of things in his arms.
Isiron called to him, “Gerald! I did not know if you were home or not, but there was a suspicious loud noise in your home, and when I called to you you were not in there to answer, but I didn’t know. I came out to look in to see if you were in there needing help or if someone broke in. But on this side there is some monstrous thing like a tree, it moves, and is by your window and may have made the sound I heard!”
Gerald answered, “I know about that! Stay away from it! It is a superscalywood, my wife’s family had brought it here years ago, for it to grow here by our home. They did not mention that it moves around, and responds to anyone around it, and it has only grown larger since, and I think it is dangerous.”
Isiron said, “I am glad to hear you know about this, and certainly to see that you are alright. I had thought that maybe we should call authorities to deal with this thing.”
“Don’t do that. We should call scientists, perhaps botanists, to look at this. It could be something really rare such that we shouldn’t let it be destroyed, like authorities might do. But we can let scientists take it from here where they will.”
Isiron said, “Then let us do that soon. I don’t know what noise it was making to your home, but it seemed it was trying to attack me. So you should agree it shouldn’t stay here.”
“Right, I will try to find someone interested in right away in the morning.”
Isiron agreed to that being done, and after just a little more talk, both returned to the homes of each that were next to each other.
After Gerald made one of several calls that next day, specialists came with tree service workers from the Department of Intelligent Response of the Institute of Applied Quantum Abstractions. They spoke with Gerald when they had seen it and how it would move about. Doctor Wondapel said to him, “This superscalywood you have here is an alien plant being. There has been only one other ever found in our world, that we know about. I wish we could know how your wife’s family found this one. This like the other one found is territorial, and would try keeping anyone, or any animals, away. And it can be aggressive. We will have it moved very soon, it won’t be safe to others that could come around here. We will have it in a location where we can study its behavior thoroughly.”
Later that day with those from the tree service, and with the limbs of the superscalywood held by very strong bonds to not strike out, it was carefully moved onto a large truck brought to move it, and they all had it carried back to the Institute of Applied Quantum Abstractions.
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By Sharon Willett 768 Words
The small white room smelled of disinfectant and had one bed where my mom lay. Tubes ran into her arm from a bag hanging above her. I stared, as if in a trance, at the monitor above, imagining the beeping sounds signifying her heartbeats. Her face showed none of the resentment that flowed through my body, and I wondered what it felt like to be so at ease.
I resented her for the lies I had lived with for the last sixteen years, thinking they were my truth. I hated her for not telling us about our life before we could rely on memory. Hearing of the reality of her life and ours from others only deepened the wounds and mistrust we held. Her blonde hair encircled her face with curls, and a slight smile plied at her lips. I wondered if in her heart she knew I sat beside her. I wondered if she would have cared.
The nurse came in and used a syringe to inject the tubing with medication, or maybe a pain killer. I studied her lips as she told me I couldn’t stay the night. I didn’t answer, returning my gaze to the monitor and noting an irregularity in her heart rate. Her body had taken a beating in the car where she was the lone passenger. My older sisters had homes and family to tend to, so they left right after the doctors told us they didn’t expect Mom to live through the night. I knew my sisters would be back soon.
The nurse put her hand on my shoulder, and with closed eyes, spoke a prayer. She had bowed her head, so I couldn’t make out all the words, but I did see her say the word peace.
Peace. I would never make peace with my mother now. She would never explain away the pain of knowing the real truth behind my loss of hearing. Maybe I should do as my Aunt Vicky said and remember the goodness of my mom.
The memory of mom packing a lunch and taking a drive with all three of us kids, giving each of us the chance to choose the next turn she would make. I can’t remember the exact rules, but those choices changed the direction of our day. We all laughed and wondered where we would end up. That was silly but fun, and we always ended up on an exciting adventure.
The pictures of my youth came flooding in. One day when I was little, we all gathered to watch the Disney movie Fantasia. The other kids ran from the room with hands over their ears. Mom wanted me to feel the music that I would never hear. She did love me and always looked for ways to make life special.
Mom had a compulsion to fill our lives with knowledge and culture. Books, purchased at libraries and garage sales, were stacked in every room and shelf of our house. We couldn’t afford much, but she often took us to museums and art galleries. At the time, I resented her harping at us to stand up straight and quietly walk through the building.
The pounding of a multitude of feet running in the hallway behind me made the floor tremble under my shoes, and I looked up at the monitor and knew why. I stood as two of her doctors entered along with the nurse that had prayed over me. She pushed me out of the way, and with skilled hands, they tried to save my mother’s life. But it was her time to go.
Tears flowed down my cheeks. I forgave her lies and prayed to remember only the wonderful gifts she left behind.
One of the doctors handed me a tissue. I brushed away my shame from my unshaved face and went to my mother’s bedside. A guy my age didn’t cry like this. I pulled the sheet away from her face and gently took her hand in mine. There were no words, only thoughts of unanswered questions.
Would I inherit my father’s temper? Why would she tell me I had been born without hearing, instead of the truth of my father’s anger at a crying baby. Why did my cousins have to be the ones to tell me he was in prison? Didn’t Mom realize the truth would eventually come out?
What if we are on Earth to find the truths of our soul and then are shown how the choices we made affected the lives of those around us? Could it all be a journey of self-realization?
Redemption Moon Pt 2
Redemption Moon Pt 2
Dale Prescott sat in his living room watching the full moon rise. The monthly guilt reached out to him with icy fingers, as he held his Bible, praying for peace and for deliverance of those whom he knew were cavorting with evil, this night. Every month, for the past ten years, Dale battled his conscience. No one outside his family knew the dark secrets he carried and most in the family did not understand the weight he shouldered as chief of The Hunters. He gained a new identity in his faith, but not everyone shared his faith nor did they agree with calling off The Hunt. The Hunt, just as deadly to the hunters as the hunted, after centuries of war failed to tip the balance one way or another. Dale believed there had to be a better way to eradicate the evil his family battled for generations.
The verse the senior Prescott meditated on most came back to him: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. For generations the Prescott family hunted an abominable perversion of nature, a pervasive and dangerous evil. The Prescott family, alone, knew lycanthropes were real and, for reasons lost to history, were tasked with their eradication. Ten years earlier Dale was installed as clan chief after the passing of his father. To prove his worthiness, he had to make a kill, which in modern times, was far more difficult than it had been for his medieval relatives.
Hunting the Pack was more dangerous than any other prey in the world. Members of the Pack presented only one night per month, possessing supernatural abilities to ward off attack. Making a successful kill was equal parts luck and skill. Sometimes decades would pass before a successful kill and every kill usually incurred retaliation to the hunters. Violence always begets violence. Dale, in his first month as chief, made the kill, cementing his place at the head of the table. Wayne Morris was his victim. Wayne left behind a wife and a seven year old son named Benny. After the kill, Dale watched as the abomination transformed back into human form, a man like him, a man with a family and a life. Furthermore, the Pack had not hunted human flesh for over two hundred years, so there really was no justification for killing them.
After the kill, Dale decided to numb his conflicted conscience by visiting the local liquor store. On the way, he passed a brightly lit church from which he could faintly hear lively music. Seeing the giant cross atop the church steeple was more than Dale’s soul could bear, he pulled into the parking lot, sat in his car and cried. After he cried himself dry, he noticed the music had stopped and felt compelled to enter the church. Taking a seat in the back, Dale heard a message of God’s love for sinners, even a murderer like himself. More importantly, he heard a message of redemption through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Dale’s life was never the same.
Realizing the Hunt was futile and ineffective, after much prayer, Dale was able to convince the Hunters to call a truce. For the first time in human memory, a Prescott revealed himself to the Pack and both sides realized mutually assured destruction was a pretty good enticement for peace. The truce held firm for ten years, until two weeks earlier when Wayne Morris’ kid almost broke Dale’s nephew’s arm at school. A parlay between Dale and the high school Dean of Boys smoothed over any potential problems but he knew something had to change, so tonight, while the Pack ran, Dale prayed more earnestly than ever.
The following weekend, Dale had dinner at his brother’s house and over dessert, asked his nephew Sean how school was going. “It’s Ok, I guess, the biggest trick is staying away from the bullies. Some of the bigger kids like to pick on the new freshmen.” Since becoming a follower of Christ, Dale had a knack for naturally turning any conversation into an opportunity to share spiritual truth, and was able to impart some Biblical wisdom to his nephew. Intrigued, Sean asked questions allowing Dale to share the Gospel clearly and concisely. By the end of the night, Sean prayed with his uncle, placing his faith in Jesus Christ. Sean didn’t feel anything physically take place, but mentally and spiritually he felt as if a tremendous weight lifted from his soul.
Monday morning, at school, Sean saw Benny Morris, the older boy who had nearly broken his arm a few weeks earlier. Sean made a point to avoid Benny and his buddies but today, Sean felt an urge to, not only talk to Benny, but to try to smooth things over. “Hey Benny,” Sean said, tentatively. “Huh? Oh hey kid, listen, I’m sorry for, ah, you know, well, I was just messing around, I didn’t mean to really hurt you.” Sean stuck out his hand and Benny shook it, and for the first time ever a Lycanthrope and a Prescott took steps over the threshold of friendship.
Weeks earlier, Benny experienced his first transformation and was feeling excited, scared and a bit isolated from his friends. Changing into a ravenous beast and running with the Pack had been the most exhilarating experience of Benny’s life, but it also meant a life of secrets and isolation. Being seventeen was tough enough, realizing he was truly different from most people added a whole other layer of uncertainty. Sean’s unexpected overture of friendship could not have come at a better time.
The Dean, a leader within the Pack, kept a close eye on the friendship forming between Sean and Benny, wondering if it was a good or bad thing. He wanted to believe it was a good thing, but, gnawing at the fringes of his consciousness was an inexplicable alarm. The Dean decided to monitor the situation, ready to take action if necessary.
Both Benny and Sean experienced life altering events in the last weeks, however, Benny was unable to share his experience. Sean, on the other hand, was very excited to share his newfound faith and began asking Benny what he thought about God. It seemed Sean had the same natural ability to share his faith as his uncle, just not the knowledge his uncle possessed after a decade of study. Benny was aware, now more than ever, of his misdeeds, and the idea of being right with God appealed to him like never before. As the conversation progressed, Benny had many questions, unfortunately, Sean had few answers. Finally, Sean suggested they visit his uncle Dale, a man who had answers.
Dale Prescott could not have been more surprised when he opened his door to Sean and Benny. Dale was always cognizant of the fact he was responsible for the death of Benny’s father and now the child he had left fatherless stood on his doorstep. Swallowing his fear and confusion, Dale asked, “what can I do for you fellas?” Sean excitedly stepped in past his uncle and explained how he and Benny had been discussing Jesus but he had run out of answers so they were there to fill in the gaps.
Dale began to lay out the basics of the Gospel message, as Benny listened intently. Dale noticed the air in his home had become almost electric, much like when a thunderstorm was about to strike. A chill filled the air and the odor of rotting garbage wafted across the room. Dale, the only one who seemed to notice, realized something spiritual was happening, something malevolent was stirring.
Finally, Dale asked Benny if he was ready to pray and ask for forgiveness, accepting Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Benny seemed eager, even as the room began to smell acrid. Benny prayed out loud while his body went rigid and shook. As he continued to pray, a low moan began to emanate, from behind his own voice. The moan grew louder, growing to a horrific shriek as Benny’s body convulsed violently and then, a sudden release, as an ancient evil entity was expelled from his body. The windows in the living room shattered, the air returned to normal and the odors of burnt and rotting garbage dissipated.
Dale now knew what his family had been fighting for centuries. As all three sat in shock, staring at the shattered windows, Dale realized the war was back on. This would not be war against flesh and blood but war fought on a spiritual level. As Benny and Sean attempted to process what they had just experienced, Dale accepted his mission and was grateful for the two young men sitting in his living room, knowing they would be his first recruits in a battle for trapped souls.
Songs Of Love And Death
“Curiosity, the well known killer of cats, will also kill you and your crew Oddyseus,” warned Circe.
“Are you making prophesies like Cassandra now, witch?” asked the weary mariner.
From the shadows the sailor’s firebrand cast over the walls of her cavernous shrine bright shining Circe smiled though her voice still presented sadness worthy of a frown. “No one heeded the seeress Cassandra until it was too late for them, and if I am predicting ill-fate, you make the same mistake with me, Odysseus. Do not dare the song of the siren maidens. Only madness and death can come of it.”
Oddyseus nodded his head in understanding but his cunning defiance was winning out. “I have a plan, Goddess. I will hear the melody of the mermaid sisters and live, and I shall keep my crew safe. I need only a supply of beeswax.”
An urn appeared, rising from the damp sand around the cave. Even before he looked into it, Odysseus knew it was filled with all the wax he desired for his plan.
“Thank you, “ he said, with all due deference to the radiant entity before him. “Will my plan work?”
Circe stayed silent. The voyager heard his men in the distance, wondering whether to defy his orders to check he was safe in approaching the cave of the witch who might or might not be from Olympus. His demand to be left alone for an hour was taking longer than he had promised. He asked his question anew.
Circe snarled impatiently. “I appreciate your desires, useless Ulyssess.” Her use of the name the Romans used instead of his Greek title irked him, and Circe knew it would. Her intent was to make him hear the finality of her words. She spoke on. “You have been away from your precious beloved Penelope for nearly twenty years. You fought valiantly in the Trojan Wars over a man’s love for Helen. Now you face even more delays in getting home after your empty victory. You have fought men, hydras, the cyclops, and more. You persuaded me through love-making to stop turning your crew into pigs so we could dine on them together, but you will not love me with true passion for fear you will be in betrayal of Penelope, who I assure you, does not state chaste and faithful to you.
You could have given in to my seductions, but you tell yourself I am neither Penelope or Aphrodite. Despite rejecting my longings you still bear lusts, and desires. You hope to hear the songs of the sirens, possibly even see their breasts, and wet golden hair and silver tail-fins. Go, sail by them, despite my jealousy and my omens and warnings. See where it gets you. Take your silly beeswax if you feel it may save your soul. Begone from my presence, mortal.”
She vanished, as the first of the crew reached their captain’s side, asking if all was well for him. “We sail next tide,” was all he said, and pointed to the beeswax urn. “Load this carefully on the foredeck.”
He told the crew his plan as they sailed from Circe’s island. The winds were in their favour and they seemed finally on route for Athens, where they imagined a hero’s welcome, rewards and reunions. Hasonde, the helmsman, was the most vocal in his protests when Oddysseus revealed his intention to approach the jagged rocks of the Scyllian fjord.
Odysseus outlined the means by which his men would be preserved. “You will not hear the melodies of the dreaded mermaids. You must plug your ears with the beeswax Circe herself has bestowed on us. I alone will have my ears unplugged, so I can listen to their call. I believe their failure to lure me or any of us to a watery doom will destroy them. Under no circumstances are you to untie me or unblock your lug-holes until we are a league clear of the sharp and deadly rocks. After that, I promise you that there will be no more adventures before we sail to the arms of our sweethearts. Are you with me?”
Odysseus had feared anger, protests,and possibly even mutiny, but the men calmly went song with his plan. Many let slip that they envied him for daring the noises the daughters of Posiedon would make. Some asked if they could join him in listening to the songs while bound to the mast, but Oddyseus refused them the option of taking such a risk.
The wax was warmed enough to soften it without making it too hot, so it was pliant and easy to press into the ear. The men shouted to one another to test the ability to withstand all noises, but the yelling was useless. The men were reduced to mime artists. Only Oddyseus heard them insult one another’s parentage with a ferocity that would have led to violent fighting if the abusive comments had been heard.
As instructed prior to the stopping of their ears, locking the doors of their minds to any intruding sounds, Odysseus had the men bind him to the central mast, with heavy ropes coiled round him eight times, trapping arms, thighs and much of his bare torso in folds worthy of a python. Odysseus could barely breathe. It was as he had instructed. He was pleased with the results despite his discomfort.
The mist shrouded rocks were becoming visible, so the commander of the ship expected to hear the sirens at any time. The men looked round and forward apprehensively. The shoals, sandbanks and serrated black stone could tear their oaken hull and destroy them even without the sirens intervening.
Despite the thickening mists, shark fins were spotted, where the ravenous frenzied sea-wolves closed in as if expecting a feast at any minute.
Where was the song? Had the maidens abandoned their temple? “Share your noise with me, Thelxinoe and Ligeia, I dare thee!” Odysseus called, hearing his words echoing back. There was no other sound.
And then there was, the sound of screaming as his men cried out in a mixture of anguish and ecstasy. One by one they leapt over the starboard side of the deck, trying to swim to the rocks, only to drown or fall prey to the great predators. Odysseus called to them to stop, fearing that in some way their beeswax had been sabotaged, or holed to let them hear the siren song cries. So why not he, when his ears were totally unprotected?”
As Hasode, the last of the sailors, took the plunge and screamed in the jaws of the Mako, Odysseus screamed anew. “How is this possible and why not me?”
Figures appeared, three female forms, climbing up the rope ladders to the deck, despite two of them bearing long tails. Their beauty was breath-taking but nothing beside that of the woman standing naked, dripping, without fish scales or tails, and instantly recognizable. Circe!
“What have you done?” Odysseus said, weeping. “Did you break the wax in some way?”
The sombre entity shook her head. “The beeswax was fine. The men could not hear with their ears, but they could hear my ladies here with their minds. Your ear protection was irrelevant. We can get right inside your heads. Men of your future will come to call our gift telepathy. Notice that I address you now without my lips moving at all.”
“Let me hear the song too? I beg you.”
“No, for that would kill you as surely as it slaughtered your fine boys. You may come with me, or drift on alone to your unfaithful, ungrateful Penelope. Live out your days knowing you remain deaf to the true sound of love. You dared decline my affections. Your passions will now never be requieted. Your crew died feeling the song we sang was worth the sacrifice. You will only ever know the deafening noise of cold empty silence. Begone, Odysseus. Begone.”
Leaving only the sound-free air, the goddess and the maidens of the misty sea faded from view. Odysseus, still bound to the mast timber, was almost dead from thirst when rescued by passing argonauts, and taken home to the a wife who had remarried taking his twenty year absence as proof of his death.
I am posting this on behalf of Mirta who posted her story at Goodreads November 1st.
A DESPERATE MAN
By Mirta Oliva
My husband will be gone on a business trip for two weeks. I do not like being home alone but traveling is part of his business life so I am trying to adapt.
It’s raining and my hubby just ran out the door to catch the waiting taxi. I could hardly see the license tag, ending in 05G. I waved goodbye and cried a little as the car drove away. All the while Jay had cracked the window to send me kisses. Oh, I love this man!
The next morning I was outside in our vegetable garden, picking up some lettuce. I had spent the night alone but there were no apparitions so I slept well. Now I am enjoying what we both love to do: to work in our backyard to complete the area around the gazebo plus to follow our planting project as laid out in a drawing we had made. It will be a lovely, secluded place including a secret garden. As I continued my wandering thoughts, a noise scared me but it was only the mailman.
“Good morning, Mr. Fultz, I hope there are no bills today!”
“I have no idea,” replied the mailman, “but I am sure a little bill would have found its way in this big stack of mail.”
I bid Mr. “F” goodbye and hurried inside the house to begin sorting out the mail. I wasn’t expecting any from Jay… too soon now but I will open the computer later to see how things are going.
“What’s this?” I asked myself when I saw a handwritten envelope with the worst cursive I had ever seen. I was hesitant to open it but, with my husband gone, I thought it prudent to see what this was all about so I began reading out loud:
“Mrs. Jay Blunden, I know your husband is away… I saw him leaving in a taxi. I know you are not rich but you live in a nice house and have an expensive car so you must have some money in the bank. Yes, you guessed it right. I will be asking you for money but you must follow my instructions completely or else. I am not telling you what will happen but it will not be pleasant or safe. For that, you must not call the police. Wait for my phone call on Wednesday the 3rd.”
Had I not been sitting down, I would have dropped to the floor. Why us? I left for the kitchen and poured a cup of my freshly-brewed coffee. I needed to relax and figure out what to do. After a while, I thought it would be best to hear what he had to say over the phone, record our conversation, and then see what is asked of me.
At the set day, the phone rang. It was a man’s voice identifying himself as the letter writer. He was quick to ask very apologetic that I bring $9,000 in twenty and ten dollar bills, around 7 p.m., right after dark through the pathway just behind the empty field. I should stop by the front door of the old, abandoned church, three blocks off Main Street. I knew the place well, dark and gloomy, surrounded by empty lots. The man claimed he had run out of luck for too long now and needed money for his wife’s hospital bills. I was too afraid and worried to say no so I agreed to deliver what he asked in a couple of days.
During our first years of marriage, Jay and I worked two jobs to be able to buy our first house. Later, we were lucky to find better jobs where we made enough to begin saving for when the kids arrived. When my husband was promoted, arrangements were made by the company to sell our house and buy us a better one in our current location. We finally had it all… or almost all! But if I complied with the man’s request, a good portion of our savings would be gone. If not, I would have to go to the police though this could bring more worries if their plans failed and the man was out there, where he could haunt us again for money.
From the day I received the letter, I had dwindling headaches that would not allow me to concentrate on what to do. In the meantime, I kept my husband unaware of what was going on for a good reason. This was a very important trip for him and many things depended on the outcome. Positive for sure. Not thinking it twice, I headed for the bank and requested the monies as casual as I could manage. Nothing was asked and I left the bank as there was nothing to it.
On Wednesday evening, just as it got dark, I placed the monies in a lunch bag and drove to Main Street, parking my car one block away from the old church. Making sure no one was following, I began walking toward the abandoned building, still no signs of anybody walking by. As I approached the church, a man stood by its huge wooden door waiting for me. I felt as though my legs could not carry me any longer but I had to walk up to the man and get this over with. I was just a few yards away when a policeman came out of the bushes and pulled me away from sight. At the same time, other policemen came out from hiding and asked the man to drop the gun. Without hesitation, he dropped what was later on found to be a fake one and surrendered without any problems.
At the station, still shivering, I sat down in the Sheriff’s office. I welcomed the glass of water offered as he began explaining what had brought them to the church. The desperate man had also contacted two other women in the neighborhood, requesting under ten-thousand dollars from each. Luckily, one of them had gone to the same local bank that I had gone to on the same day.
The similar withdrawals and a suspicious teller who noticed that both women had acted rather nervous, caused that the bank Manager reported the coincidences to the police.
I thanked the officers involved profusely and paid a visit to the bank the next day to thank the keen-eyed teller and the Manager.
Although my husband was not in agreement with my decision, he was happy that it turned out the way it did. Now, he told me, we can continue hoping for the first baby and a second one later on.
NOISES IN THE NIGHT
by terry turner 751 words
If you hear creaky noises at night, you may not be alone. In bare feet, I crept out into the hall with a baseball bat ready for anything that might be lurking around the corner. The scratching noise that woke me seemed to be coming from the other end of the house.
The storm brewing outside added to the creepy, unwanted noise that lured me from a night of much-needed deep sleep. Lightning flashed, lighting the dark corners and casting shadowy figures across the hardwood floor. I braced my body against the wall as thunder rattled the very rafters above my head. “Steady as she goes,” I whispered to myself.
Moving forward again, I could hear a popping noise coming from the kitchen. The noise, I discovered, was from the water heater in the laundry room. Trapped air in the tank was making popping and frying sounds.
I decided to have a quick look around the lounge room. Just as I reached for the switch to turn the table lamp on, pellets of hail pelted the bay window causing me to jump backward almost dropping the bat.
After gathering my composure, I flipped the light switch but the bulb in the lamp popped and went black.
In the kitchen cabinet drawer, I grabbed my emergency flashlight and had a scan of the lounge room. There was nothing there. A flash of lightning and a roar of thunder echoed down the valley floor. The wind was whirling around on the side porch making a rustling noise like dried leaves on paper.
The sound of footsteps on the porch gave me pause. Moving closer to the door, I stopped to listen. After several minutes, I turned on the porch light and had a look through the peephole to see if anyone or something was out there. I could see the leaves playing in the wind and a mother Raccoon, with her five babies, had taken refuge from the punishing storm. My heart almost went into arrhythmia when a large oak leaf plastered its self over the peephole for a couple of seconds before dropping to the floor.
I wondered if all the unexpected noises were playing tricks on my mind or was there something more sinister lurking about. After all, it is an old house and there is no telling how many people died under its roof.
I had to laugh at my thoughts but, to be on the safe side, I focused the flashlight on the door to see if the night latch was in place before returning to bed.
By this time, I was very sleepy and determine to block out any noise that ventured into the bedroom. Closing my eyes, I unwittingly began to imagine spirits roaming around at night while I slept. And then I heard the scratching noise again.
At first, I tried to ignore it but I knew in my heart of hearts that sleep would never come if I didn’t investigate. So again, I crept out into the hall and stopped to listen.
This time I cautiously followed the scratching noise to the study. It was dark as I slowly pushed the door open and looked warily around the corner. I slowly flicked on the overhead light switch and at the same time, twin forks of lightning lit the sky with a great crack of thunder shaking the room.
Tabetha, my fat tabby cat shot up from the sofa with her ears flattened and her fur resembling a feather duster. The demon’s eyes glowed yellow saucers of fear. Her mouth bared sharp white teeth accompanied by a loud hiss. I felt myself stiffen and made the bat ready if need be.
When I realized it was Tabetha, I relaxed and so did she. Her face returned to her normal sweet self and gave me a friendly meow. I noticed one of her toy dolls lying on the floor in front of the sofa. She had managed to rip off the doll’s hair and one of the arms. I gave her my sternest look of disapproval, turned the light off, and fell back into bed.
As I snuggled again under the sheets, I decided to go to the town library in the morning and see if any newspaper clippings might shed some light on this house and the people who have lived and died under this roof.
Just as I was about to doze off, however, I heard another noise. This time from outside my bedroom window.