Friday, July 25, 2014

The Silent Room: Part 21

Dr. Adelheid

Dr. Adelheid stood in frozen shock when the doors to the Silent Room swung open suddenly.  Caught before she even made it to the bio board with the disconnect serum.  Then she saw the form of a man crumpling slowly to the floor, his dark curls splattering across the tile.


He sat with relief, drawing in great gulping breaths of air and emptiness.  No screaming pterodactyls, no chasing wolves or stampeding horses.  He was alive.  He didn't know which side was up or down anymore. He was just glad to be able to stop moving for five minutes.  He kept thinking everything would start to make sense at some point. But the scenarios just kept getting stranger and stranger and less like any place he had ever been.  At least this time he didn't feel like he was five minutes from dying a miserable painful death by crazed, clawing animal.

It took a few minutes to come into himself, to begin to think of the fourth and last item on his list- a blue checked napkin.

In front of him was a stretching flatness.  There was no sense of reality in the distance. Nothing in the landscape to anchor him.  Just empty dusty fields stretching away from him in all directions.  

At last he started by turning around.  Then he chose a direction at random and walked straight ahead. And very nearly knocked himself out when his jaw shot up and  his feet spun under him like a rug being pulled out.

From his new place on the hard ground he blinked at the space in front of him. It seemed to shimmer like ripples spreading out from a central point. Then it calmed and smoothed into invisibility.  A way to break through this false reality!

Eagerly he stood up and spent the next hour trying to break through that same spot.  It didn't work. All he managed to do was make himself nauseous and dizzy.  And sore.

Next he tried finding the edge of the wall to see how far it continued. He had walked at least a mile with no break in the wall when he realized that the wall wasn't as straight as he'd first thought. Instead it seemed to be curving ever so slightly inward like the  underside of a great bowl. Maybe this world was just curving around in a big circle, and he would come back to his original spot. If he dropped something and it was a circle, he'd come back to it.  He went through his pockets looking for anything he could drop. There was nothing.  Eventually, he used his feet to scuff out a giant x in the hard ground of the field.

Keeping the wall to his left he continued on,  putting one foot in front of the other.  Nothing changed.  And he certainly didn't see anything that resembled a checked napkin.  Not in all that great open space.  He did not come back to the x.  He kept on walking until night fell.  Then he settled down against the invisible wall and tried to catch a few hours of sleep.

In the darkness, thoughts came.   He had been searching in this great emptiness, going at it for who knows how long. Maybe days. With nothing to show for it.  He needed to solve this. For himself and the redheaded doctor and all the rest of his countrymen.  But what if there was no napkin to find? Or what if he found the napkin, but when he got out of this he was so dead tired that he couldn't function to put one foot in front of the other?  How would he get his real body to get away then?  He thought of the bottle he had carried for so long.  Thinking to much when you had the time to sleep never did any good.  He let the exhaustion flow through him, weight him down. He let his head slump forward and let sleep wash him away.

When he woke, day had returned full and bright. As though someone somewhere had simply flipped a switch.  He just sat and stared across the empty fields and expanse. He was hungry and thirsty and not that much less tired than he had been when he fell asleep in the darkness.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Things He Couldn't Hear

Prompt Writing with Copper. The prompt was "things he couldn't hear".

The world had grown useless in his old age.  Simon spat fiercely at an irritating weed, then shifted his chew from one cheek to the other.  Useless, good for nothing young people who couldn't be bothered to say so much as a please or a goodbye or a thank you.  And mumbling like nincompoops all the rest of the time.

Too annoyed to think about the sorry state of the world any longer, he shoved himself up onto his knees and tried to stand.  They creaked and grumbled and all around complained as he struggled.   Eventually he gave in and used the cane laying on the ground next to him to get to his feet.  About the time he got to his feet, he thought maybe he heard a bang.

He took his time but eventually got turned around to face the house.  His wife waved wildly at him and pantomimed hitting a pan with a wooden spoon.  What on earth?  He was starting to think she was going as crazy as the rest of the world. Well, if she wanted to play charades.  He pointed at the half full wheelbarrow next to him and gestured toward the trash pile. She nodded, then held up the phone.  Oh right, Cindy was calling at 6 pm sharp.  He looked at his watch. Thirty minutes yet.  He'd about make it.  He nodded, then huffed out a sigh before turning to wrangle with the wheelbarrow.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Silent Room: Part 20

Okay, turns out I "lied" about continuing to post TSR episodes in a timely manner. Posting now resuming...

Out in the fields

The early morning sun had tipped over the horizon to paint the sky in lemons and salmon pinks. A drifting gauze of mist softened the edges of the grassy field. Several sheep dotted around the grass, lazily chewing their cud.

Sora, a bitty slip of a girl, sat huddled up against a tall lean man with dirty blonde hair in the shadow of a craggy rock along the fence line.  

Her thick wavy hair had been forced into two tight fat braids, and tiny curls sprouted around her face and watchful blinking brown eyes.  His milk pale skin looked almost transparent next to the warmth of her darker skin.

She pulled her feet tighter under the hem of her white flannel night dress, trying to keep them warm. Most of the other strangers had already gotten up, grumbling, and wandered away. Disappearing as so much dissipating mist as they walked toward the road. She was ready to go somewhere else too.

“Uncle Kerr, are you awake yet?” she tried again.

“Maybe,” his voice croaked back at her this time, creaky and hoarse with disuse. At the words she popped up on her knees peering at his face. His eyelids fluttered.

"Please, wake up?" She tugged hopefully at the front of his sleeping shirt. 

 This, along with the cold discomfort of hard ground underneath him and the reality of her presence, finally brought him fully awake. His eyes snapped open, and he sat up abruptly. Then blinked at the impossibility of his surroundings. 

When he had fallen asleep he could have sworn it was in his own bed, in his old college apartment above Ralph's Apothecary. A city away from Sora. The strangeness of that thought penetrated  his thoughts.  Never mind the distance between where they lived. He had lived in that apartment with Hank years before Sora was born. Years before Hank had even married Lily. He looked down at her, dazed. Now she was old enough to be a girl of...six.

How could he have been living in that apartment? How could he have forgotten about Sora? About everything that came after his college years? How could he be in a field?

He looked down at his feet for a moment to block out the sky and the grass and the wide brown eyes and the questions. Then he saw what he was wearing. Hang on, why was he wearing the red candy cane striped flannel sleep set his mother always insisted they wear on Christmas morning? He hated them, all scratchy and cheesy.

"Where are we?" was the question he finally settled on voicing, not expecting a reply.

"Shepherd Sam's field," piped back Sora.

"What?" He looked back at her, trying to translate the words into something that made sense.

"Shepherd Sam's field. From daddy's stories?"  Her words were patient, if slightly patronizing now.

"That's a real place?" He couldn't keep the shock out of his voice.  He would have sworn on his life that the world of Shepherd Sam was completely fictional. 

In fact, he was positive it had been fictional, a composite of photos torn from magazines, and culled from old books, and printed off the internet. He had watched his brother sketch and design and redesign all through college.

"Duh," Sora rolled her eyes at him and climbed to her feet.  She was cold and tired of waiting for him.

He scrubbed his face with his hands and wished for a cup of hot steaming coffee. It was too early to deal with this insanity.

As he took a look around he found the world making even less sense. The pastoral scene and winding road did in fact look very much like his brother Hank's Shepherd Sam comic.  Off in the distance he could even see a shepherd teetering on the stilt seat that was straight out of a pen and ink drawing Hank had found in a book from the 1800s.

He looked back at Sora, who very definitely existed. From a future he hadn't remembered before he went to sleep last night. As she stood in a made up field.  She seemed to be having a whole lot less trouble with this than he was.

"Can we go see Grandma Nan now?" asked Sora, pointing.

And, sure enough, down the winding road off to their right, he could just see the puffing smoke from a fat chimney that looked a lot like Grandma Nan's. The fictional Grandma Nan. He sighed. Grandma Nan was always good for coffee and hot food in Hank's comic wasn't she? Maybe she would feed two passing friendly strangers dressed only in their nightclothes and going slowly insane. Yes. Coffee was definitely the next step. Even if it was fictional coffee.

He shoved himself to his feet and then bent to pick up Sora.

"Let's see if we can find some breakfast before we try to think about this, hey?" He felt her head nod against his neck before it dropped to his shoulder.

For those who are interested in the pen and ink drawing of the shepherd see here.