Magical Boy Lawrence (part 1)

Date: 12th March, 2019
Edited: 16th March, 2019

Written at the Writers Cafe meetup
Prompt: <His massive jowls shook like jelly.>

Tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-

60 eyes were peeled on the clock- the only one in this massive lecture hall. Its rather standard dinner plate size seemed inadequately small when put upon the towering wall behind the stage. The 60 eyes didn’t need the clock to be massive though. Not when they can follow the long black minute hand just fine.

-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-

The relentless racing rhythm of the second hand boomed over the professor’s monotone drawling. His portly round stature and massive jelly-wobbling jowls heaved and shook as he went on and on and on about some literary theory or something along those lines. His rather poor impression of an oversized sad bulldog did not distract the 60 eyes from their vigilant watch on the clock.

-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-TICK!

The moment the minute hand struck 12, completing its 60 minute circuit, the lecture hall exploded in a flurry of frantic activity. A chorus of 10 sets of arms rustled around to collect stray pens and notebooks. 15 almost simultaneous SNAP-SNAP-SNAPs of closing laptops accompanied that like percussion. 4 voices spoke in some form of chaotic acapella, badgering the professor at the front who looked like a poorly prepared (and dressed) celebrity facing rather rabid tabloid reporters.

And then, there was him. The young man, barely looking a day over 18, was perfectly camouflaged within the chaos of departing freshmen carrying empty Starbucks cups out of the hall. No one seemed to mind that he was still sitting, easily stepping over and around him like a river parting into two because of an errant rock.

And he waited. And waited. Waited until the last of the badgering students have satisfied their hunger on exclusive pointers for the upcoming midterms and promptly exited as well. All there remained was the professor, huffing and puffing as if he’d just run a marathon and back. But nevertheless, he climbed up the stairs like a champ.

But then he stopped at where the young man was still sitting. His stare lingered on him for a moment. And then, longer than what is appropriate for a quick glance, turning the look into an all out stare. The professor’s jiggly jowls shook as he shuddered and broke eye contact. And then, he too left the lecture hall, switching off the lights and plunging the large room into darkness.

“You’d think he had the hots for you, eh Lawrence dawg?”

The young man, Lawrence, signed and his loose relaxed posture crumpled into a cringe, his head sinking into his open palm.

“It’s so fucking creepy to hear you talk like that, old man,” Lawrence groaned through his facepalm.

“Talk like what, homie?” The bust of the Founder of the University of Cauldwell, situated near the entrance of the lecture hall, grinned a shit-eating grin, bronze-cast teeth showing as the scuffed and aged metal softened and gave way for the expression.

“Like that,” Lawrence groaned even louder and curled further into his seat as if the cringing feeling physically stabbed him again.

“Just ‘cuz I’m like a century old don’t mean I can’t speak how I want. Talk about rude,” the bust scoffed haughtily, “Typical millennials.” It seemed to be eating up Lawrence’s pained reactions, the grin mellowing deceptively into a metallic smirk.

“That’s it! I’m definitely not spending another night here,” Lawrence snapped defiantly, finally standing up from the cushy seat. He then turned around and walked through the rows of seats, his solid form clipping through equally solid chairs. It was like watching a bad character bod glitch out in video game from the early 2000s.

“Ya still under house arrest, my dude,” the Founder watched him as he climbed up the incline towards the double door entrance of the lecture hall, his bronze neck stretching as far as the stand allowed without toppling over. “You’ll get into trouble with the Boss Lady.”

“Not if you shut it and don’t snitch on me,”

And with that, Lawrence glitched past the double doors and had definitely left the building.

“I ain’t no snitch,” the Founder scoffed, relaxing back into his default position, his glazed over cast-bronze eyes focusing on the seat Lawrence had been occupying just a minute ago. The dried up red-brown stain on the cloth surface was still there.

6th March, 2016
Writer’s Notes

Last week I was pouring angry, fury and hurt into my writing so this week, I resolved to do the complete opposite and fill my sentences with humor and fun. I was still rather tender and emotionally hurt at the time when I wrote this but actively trying to pull myself out of the hole of depression and despair DID indeed help. Just trying helped. And I have to thank the rest of my friends (online and IRL) and my fellow writers at the Writers’ Cafe for being a force of life and positivity for me. And things kinda still worked out in the end too in my personal life so lesson learned! I think.

Anyways, about this piece. It’s part of a 3/4 part mini series! It’s my first time working on a somewhat longer short story so this is a learning experience for me. I continued to focus on building a 3-D atmosphere with sound but I think I’ll try and incorporate and experiment with other senses as well to see what works. I also applied what I learned with writing fun dialogue (from other writers at the meetups) and I think it shined in this piece.

I hope you guys enjoyed the piece and I’ll see you again next week! (If I recover from this chest infection I’ve been fighting for the past 3 or so days)

Until next time,
The Writing Borb

Pauline

Date: 26th February, 2019
Edited: 28th February, 2019

Written at the Writers Cafe meetup
Prompt: Pauline

Ants. Tiny six-legged creatures with brains the size of a grain of salt. And yet, somehow, they manage to build up empires with sprawling underground tunnel networks with multiple queens commanding billions of individuals.

SPLAT!

But they are no match for the soles of a size 7 Reeboks AIR.

Gravel coated with the gore of squished ants was sent flying in the wake of a pair of stumbling, giggling teenagers. They laughed as they clumsily made their way across the gravel clearing, high on the sweet stinging taste of forbidden vodka.

“No one would find us there,” one of the girls said to the other in a whisper.

“Then why are you whispering, stupid?”

Laughter erupted from the pair. The pretense of caution and stealth was thrown away to the wind like a rather noisy and crinkly fluorescent colored trash bag.

Tipsy steps found better footing as gravel gave way to the packed earth of the forest. Their shoes crunched as they walked over the carpet of dead leaves blanketing the forest floor. The trees seemed to grow in size the deeper they went, blocking the nighttime sky as their trunks lengthened and branches clawed upwards toward the moon in vain.

“You can’t even see the camp lights from here,”

“That’s the point,”

“It’s really dark in here,”

“That’s…also the point. Stupid.”

“Oh.” Then, brief pause. “Right!”

A girlish giggle warbled out in the darkness.

“So, where is it?”

The crunching of leaves from two pairs of feet… The background soundtrack of various forest noises…

No answer.

Another beat of background sounds.

Still no reply from the other girl.

“Hey… Where is it?”

“Hey… Where is it?”

A drunken laugh, a bark really. The brief burst of sound stacattoed out into the forest.

“No seriously. Where is it?”

A drunken LaUgh, a BArK really. The brief BuRST of sound stacattoed out into the forest.

“No seriously. Where is it?

“That’s not funny,”

“That’s NoT FUnNy,”

“Cut it out!”

There was a quick swishing sound- the movement of a person in loosely fitting pajamas. No impact. Just empty air.

Then, silence. Just the forest and her.

One beat.
.
.
.
Two beats.

And then, a quiet whimper. “P…Pauline?”

CUT it oUt!”

Another quick SWiSHinG noise- the movement of SOMETHING much, MUCH larger and heavier than a person step step STEPPING on the dry dEAd leaves lurching forward and- a HARD, WET, MEATY IMPACT. The sound of GUSHinG liquid. G u r GL i ng. A dull, heavy THUNK. The cRINkLinG of leaves.

Then, silence. Just the forest and her and…it.

Not quite.

Incoming- a new collection of sounds. The collective skittering of thousands, no billions, of tiny little legs, marching towards their new destination.

Pauline stepped out of the woods. She emerged from within the dense copse of trees, brushing off dead leaves and debris from her hair and clothes. Her Reeboks AIR hit the gore-covered gravel, the tiny sharp pebbles rattling underfoot with each step, overshadowing the sound of billions of tiny legs.

The ants were marching in a neat and orderly line, marching into the woods with a purpose. Pauline was going in the opposite direction. She easily ignored the ants.

But she could hear something else very, very clearly- above the ants’ skittering, above the rattle of the gravel underfoot, above the thunderous rhythm of her heart.

And there it is, a quiet WHimPer, “P…PAuLine?”

Pauline kept walking and did not look back.

1st March, 2019
Writer’s Notes:

It’s been a week since I’ve written prose so I’m a little rusty. This goes to show that I need the weekly habit to keep writing stories feeling natural. This week I wanted to dip my toes back into the horror genre and try a different spin on the whole “drunk dumb teens going into the woods at a campsite” trope. In this case, I tried to tell the story through descriptions of sound and with lots of ambiguity. I was inspired with the recent trend in horror movies like BIRD BOX and A QUIET PLACE where senses are handicapped and the antagonists are a really up to the viewers’ imagination. I find it refreshing and a lot more frightening. I can’t really say how well I executed this in written form but I will continue trying to refine this technique. And from others’ advice, will work on consistent POVs and better characterization of characters.

Tell me what you guys think?

Until next time,
The Writing Borb

Sergei’s People

Date: 28th January, 2019
Edited: 1st February, 2019

Written at the Writers Cafe
Prompt: Take a news article and spin a story from it. I chose this.

A cozy living room. Warm yellow lights. Old, worn, yet comfortable armchairs. This was the scene that greeted me when Sergei welcomed me into his humble 1-bedroom apartment. To be honest, I was expecting his choice of home decor to be a lot more…eccentric given his art.

I initially emailed Sergei back in March when i first saw his works. I thought getting his er…unique…thoughts would make a good story to cover on my blog. He hasn’t replied until a week ago. It was then I found out that he had just moved into the city where I currently live in. He not only agreed to answer my questions, but he also agreed to be interviewed. In person.

“So, Mr Sergei-”

“Bah. Just Sergei.” His accent was strong. European. Not French. Not Spanish. Something vaguely Eastern. “You make me sound old with…ah…mister.”

“Sergei then,” I relented easily with my best people-pleaser smile, “ What brings you to XXXXX?”

“The mannequins,” the certainly old and balding man replied.

Of course. It had to be the mannequins. His entire Facebook gallery could be summarized and labeled with the word “MANNEQUINS”- filled with thousands of pictures of pale plastic skinned people with lifeless expressions in various states of dress and undress. They weren’t even crappy photos. They were taken methodically, from different angles, using different lenses and filters and settings to bring out different effects in the images. Everything around the mannequins looked fantastic, sharpened to extreme detail or brushed over with the blur or gaussian tool to create washes of color that resembled that of watercolor paintings.

But then, there were the mannequins in the photos.

Cold. Frozen. Lifeless.

Greyed out like statues fading from existence but somehow, commanding the attention of the onlooker. To notice them. To look at them. Look them straight in the eye…or where they’re supposed to have eyes and finally acknowledge their existence.

I found the entire thing unnerving. And I wasn’t the only one with these feelings online.

“Why the mannequins, Sergei?” I asked the old artist, my smile unchanging.

“Because they are lonely,” he answered, lacing old spotty sinewy fingers together.

I was not expecting the sentimental angle from him.

“Why do you say so?”

“Because…I…I was lonely,” he smiled back at me, “I understand mannequins. They speak to Sergei. I help them be noticed. They help me. No more lonely.”

It was then I looked around the living room again. The walls were devoid of picture frames. There were no shelves bearing knickknacks collected over the years. Just these two comfy armchairs, some cushions and a coffee table. And on that coffee table, was a single photo in a beat up wooden frame. A colored photograph with a slightly younger looking Sergei posing for the picture with an old woman wearing a striking purple dress.

Oh.

“Come,” he suddenly said, standing up, “I help you understand. Then, you let people understand. Yes?”

I stood up and followed in his tottering footsteps into a side room. Sergei turned on the lights. All the mannequins, in various states of dress and undress, and one wearing a striking purple dress, stared back.

6th February, 2019
Writer’s Notes:

Writing this piece was both incredibly fun for me but also very conflicting. The news article (linked above in the prompt) put me through a sequence of feelings. First I was creeped out, then I became even more unnerved, and then, it suddenly made me feel bad about being creeped out. The artist in the article was really passionate and earnest about the message he’s trying to send to whoever looks at his art pieces. I can totally relate to that. I write a bunch of weird things and have a lot of weird ideas and I’m scared about people judging them (even though I really shouldn’t be!). So yes, I felt bad.

I respect the artist and his passion but the bottom line is- I still am creeped out by mannequins. I can’t help it!

So this is what this story became, the twists and turns of my feelings translated into fiction and personified in the journalist character. As for that ending… I still love meself some supernatural horror. 🙂

I might continue this in the future so look out for more from this Journalist fellow!

Until next time,
The Writing Borb