Category Archives: Strange Fiction

Strange Dreams: Old Women and Dragons

The old woman was considered crazy by the townsfolk. She wandered around the village muttering the same old mutterings about dragons and loss and fear and hope, and destiny. Her small twisted frame seemed to close in on itself. Most people avoided her, but Muriel was different. She listened. She cared. She was older now, but still young enough that everyone thought she might be a little too influenced by the old woman. One thing Muriel did not do was assume anything about anyone. Everyone else thought the old woman was crazy, but Muriel knew that the old woman was young once and grew to who she is now. There might be things in her past that made her the way she is. She couldn’t have been a young toddler, wandering her parent’s home muttering the same mutterings she does now. Something changed fundamentally within the old woman at some point in her life that made her not care what people thought and have such a focus on “fantasy” that she is who she is. So Muriel befriended the old woman. She’d visit her every chance she got, apart from her chores and her studies, which wasn’t very often. The old woman resided in an alley, which was made comfortably enough because of some lumber that a kind traveler built for her some years ago. It had walls and a sturdy yet stout roof. There was always a fire in a metal barrel. It was small but provided enough heat and warmth to cook her mystery victuals and keep her comfortable in the cold of winter. Muriel would come over with tea and a few carrots or onions, and a small squab. She would prepare a meal for the old woman as her mutterings grew quiet when she watched Muriel cook. Then Muriel would lay out the feast and tell the old woman about her week. The old woman would eat slowly, looking up into Muriel’s eyes once in a while with a huge grin on her face. Sometimes she would chuckle at a rare bit of comic life Muriel would share as a printer’s daughter. Muriel would ask the old woman questions, trying to find out about the old woman’s previous life, but was always met with mutterings. She could not glean anything from the visits except for the fact that the woman enjoyed eating and maintained some sense of humor.

One day the townsfolk were all agog at some occurrence near where Muriel’s family lived. Some light appeared in the sky for a night and steadily grew brighter. In the morning it was bright enough that the people saw it hurtling down, crashing near the family property of Muriel’s family. None would come near because of the reputation of Muriel’s father. He would laugh and sing nonsensical lyrics to music only he could hear as he worked or came into town. The townsfolk considered him just as strange as the old woman, yet still of a mind that you could deal with, for the few moments you had to. The town was dreary. It was always raining, it seemed, and cheerfulness was a commodity rarely traded. Muriel’s father’s inexplicable joy was to be avoided.

The old woman appeared from her alley on the morning of the occurrence and stood on the street dancing and twirling her heavy canvas skirting. The people soon lost interest in the light that appeared the night before, because if it was that the old woman began dancing in conjunction with the occurrence, nothing of interest could come of it. They had lost their sense of curiosity, if it ever was there. The rains come and wash it all away.

Muriel could not be found where her father expected to find her. He began searching the grounds. Eventually he found her in the unused stables. She had something behind the gate of a rear stall. He approached quickly, for his curiosity and sense of wonder would not be lost as the townsfolk; washed away with the rain. Every new experience was to be treasured, sought after. Even coming to this town many years ago, he knew it was his destiny. He felt compassion for the people and their loss of flavor in their lives. He sensed something wonderful was going to happen someday in this town, and he stayed. He made his way to the dim corner and saw something undefinable. It had an unreal quality about it. The thing standing before him, looking down on him, was fashioned in such a way that he couldn’t really see. It was outlined in such a way that as it turned, the lines defining it outer edge moved. The viewers eye constantly caught a black edge on the creatures surface. It was a rough line, made as with a child’s hand. The creature had a mouth oddly shaped. There were no lips on a flat surface, but… drawings of teeth and a tongue came out of the area, all with that same dark outline. It was tan. It had a large, round body and it’s neck came out from the front center and ended at a barrel-like head. The eyes popped out of the top, wide and blank, staring at everything with a small black dot as it’s pupil. It spoke. “Sshparklethresshh,” it seemed to say as it’s tongue got in the way. It said it over and over again. Muriel’s father stared with wonder, a slight grin turned up on his face. He knew that the creature should evoke fear or disgust, but he felt nothing but joy and wonder when looking into the creature’s eyes. He knew that if anyone chose to look at this creature they would feel the same. He knew this inherently, just as he knew that those who looked at it had to do so willingly and most would choose not to look. Most would probably not even see it. He knew that if he dragged one of the townsfolk in here, kicking and screaming, they would frantically look around, claim to see nothing and run out as fast as they could.

He looked down at his daughter seeing a knowing look and grand smile in her face. They knew whatever he had chosen to stay here for, had begun this day. He heard a crack and a squeal behind him and turned to see the old woman come in, her body untwisting before him as she set her eyes on the creature.

The Gray Ooze

The gray ooze filtered its way to the surface. As it pushed itself up from some unknown depth separated and filthy with leaves and dirt and all sorts of clinging detrius, it collected into a single form, indistinct, hazy. The stuff sticking to its surface began to melt into the shape, turning gray as it dissolved. It stopped, trembled and began leaning different ways, seemingly spinning from its center mass, as if searching for something. It leaned extraordinarily, the 6-foot tall 3-foot wide semi-cylindrical form balancing precariously on some force then suddenly dropped. It formed a ball and rolled away, determined and dreadful in its new found cause. Quick was the trail it blazed as the new form did not have a sticky like surface, but rubbery, and light; almost as if it didn’t touch the ground because the things it passed over were not effected by any breeze it may have created, nor weight it could have used to smash things in its path. It swerved easily past trees as if eyes were part of this things biology. Soon it came to roads, and trimmed lawns and cement paths. Then came children on bikes or walking and people in cars or people holding green hoses. But the passing of the gray ooze was hardly noted. They may have told you that something caught in the edge of their vision and as they turned to look, to get a more fuller vision, it was gone. Few felt this sensation, and those that did would say that relief came upon them as it went by, not being able to fully define the way their breath came out hushed, to not gain attention. Suddenly it stopped. At the front area of a single home, behind a car, and not a tremble or a tittle crossed its surface. It had its goal set. A man walked out of the front door, stooped and his feet dragged upon the steps he came down. Making his way to the car the ooze was behind, he stopped and looked at the ooze, though he did not see it. A resistance came over him briefly, than acceptance. His shoulders drooped lower, his eyes further downcast, feet heavier than ever, he moved; determined to accept what would come his way because it was destiny. No need to fight here. It never worked anyway. He opened the door to the car, sickened by the mechanical sound of metal sliding past metal and plastic; the solidity of modern society, so firm and fluid. It made him angry and then sad. He touched the rubber and the metal of the door trim, and wanted to cast it from him, but it melded with his hand; so firm, so fluid. He reached out to the fabric, fabric formed over a metal and foam frame that fit his so rightly it stirred the bile building from acid and toast and jelly. Feet shuffle, hips jutting, he purloined himself to the fabric upon fabric sound and feel against his skin as he lowered himself into the bucket that held him as modern machine ferried him to dread and disillusionment of the day. In all this the ooze did not move. It bated its time; slightly moving forward, but then back as an unknown force held it, knowing that man must come to it at this point. The man was now seated, his key in his hand. All of this, all this shape, and sound, and feel got his dander up a bit, but his giving in took over any feeling of rebellion. All the round and curved and bumpiness of the things surrounding him hurt him. His skin was reacting to all the brushing and prodding, wanting to pull away from everything. He closed his eyes in anticipation of the sound of the starting of the car, thinking that closing his eyes could shut out the sound or reaction to it. It began as he turned the key and the car seemed to say brrrriiiiiieeeeffffffffff, hasty, hasty, hasty, hasty, hasty… It spoke to him the joylessness of his life. No, of his job. His job that took over all aspects of everything that brought him joy. Corn and stage and step and trail. Road and wheel and smoke and blade. Screen and hammer and wax and paper. A cavalcade of culture swam through his mind that met when his key flipped a switch that started a spark that moved through the car, that roared of potential all gone in a trail of paper marked with numbers. He reached helplessly, pulled forward the lever and down, until line met R. He was in automatic mode now. The same hand lifted and grasped the top of the other bucket of seat as he turned to face what was behind him… always behind him, let his feet of the pedal and drifted back towards the ooze. It trembled and rippled. As bumper met gray, it slowly disappeared inside the car until the man fully backed into it and it was gone; completely inside the car and now formed into a humanoid like shape next to the man, his hand brushing the ooze as it reached back to the lever and moved it to D. As his foot moved to the longer pedal, he glanced sideways at his guest he couldn’t see, but had surely invited by joining the culture ordinary, same, boring, and he whispered, “I hate you.”

Strange Fiction: The Discussion

Question eight, inspired by this article.

Tufts University: “Create a short story using one of these topics: ‘The End of MTV,’ ‘Confessions of a Middle School Bully,’ ‘The Professor Disappeared’ or ‘The Mysterious Lab.'”

The Discussion

“Well, she couldn’t really tell me how they got outside. But there was some… odd things she did say.”

“Like what?”

“Like, she couldn’t describe anything specific of what happened before she was woken up.”

“What does that mean? I mean Kaitlyn can’t shut up about what she read during the day or who she saw or what they said, when we drive home for the weekend. Is she my daughter or not? Where did she come from?!” Panic escapes from her voice.

“Now calm down Barbara. She is your daughter. I mean, she has the same impatience and sense of humor, only she is… different.”

“So, where did she say she came from?”

“Well Walter, she said Barbara woke her up, like she does everyday, and sent them outside to play, like everyday. Everyday is the same thing for her. Which is strange in itself, but she can’t really say anything specific about what happens before she went to sleep.”

“Okay… like she doesn’t remember what she ate, or what people said to her?”

“No. Like she knows she does her schooling here on campus, but she said she ‘thinks’ she remembers reading school books here. And then there are her birthday parties. It is like she knows what happens at a birthday party, and she only describes her parties in generic terms. She says that they ‘ate cake and ran'”

“‘Ate cake and ran’? That’s what she said?”

“Yes. And she said she has done it all before. You know, the interview, the questions, going to get something to eat. She was very disappointed in that whole aspect, but at the beginning she seemed, I don’t know, excited I guess. But then she mentions getting something to eat, and I tell her we’ll go to the pantry soon, and her countenance fell. She doesn’t want to go there.”

“Is she afraid of going in there?”

“No. She just… didn’t want to… maybe… look for something to eat in there. Or maybe she was thinking about what was going to happen next.”

“What does she say is going to happen next?”

“That one or another of us takes them to different parts of the building and talks to them again…”

“Do we take them to… Lab 19?”

“She doesn’t seem to recall the lab: no. But she was very excited to go there. Perhaps it was just because it was… different.”

“Should we take them there?”

“Now why would we do that Karl? Expose them… Hey. Wait. Maybe we shouldn’t do what we would normally do.”

“So what are you saying Anton? How would we know what we normally would do? Perhaps avoiding what we would normally do would lead us to actions that we always do…”

“No, no. I mean like… she said that we normally take them and interview them in other parts of the building… Is that what we are going to do?”

“Well I certainly want to talk to them some more. Your interviewing skills leave something to be desired.”

“Hey! This is a new to me Walter, give me a break. I didn’t want to shock these kids for crying out loud! We don’t even know…”

“What Anton!? What?! That they’re even my children? They are my children, that’s…”

“Wait a second Barbara, I’m sure that is not what Anton is saying. It’s all just so new.”

“Right. Right. We just need some time to figure this out.”

“Do you think we could be stuck?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well… they are telling us that they do the same thing everyday… maybe we’re the ones who are… in some sort of loop. Like we’ve had some effect from that… machine in 19.”

“How could we be. We haven’t done anything with it yet.”

“That’s why we should do what we normally wouldn’t do?”

“Why didn’t we do that before then?”

“Why didn’t we do what, before?”

“You know. Something different. Obviously they are saying that they’ve done this before. I have to assume that it was actually us they were talking to… We know that we aren’t… being deluded here.”

“How do we know we aren’t being deluded here?”

“Well Kaitlyn and Rylee are playing in the library right now. At least the ones we know…”

“How do we even know that?!”

“Okay, calm down. We just need to think. If we’ve done this before we need to do something different. Those girls in the pantry are definitely Kaitly and Rylee, just… not… um… the ones we know. We aren’t fully aware of the machine’s capability in Lab 19 yet, but we know it has to do with magnetic resonance displacement and electric…”

“I told you we should have gotten some experts in here the day that thing showed up?! You don’t even know what you’re saying, do you?”

“I know enough that those two girls that I saw today are an anomaly beyond anything I’ve experienced and it has something to do with that machine. Now we’ve got to realize that.”

“Should we bring in someone who might know something…”

“No! Now we all decided that what appeared here is something we need to figure out ourselves. The specifications for that lab were such that it was perfect for when the machine appeared! Now how does that happen? Huh? Who designed this building? Did they know that was going to appear 3 years ago? No, they couldn’t have known we are now responsible for what happens here, and we have to decide what to do next.”

“I say let’s bring them in to the lab.”

“For what purpose?”

“Maybe they’ll remember something.”

“No. No. I will not let them go in there.”

“Barbara, I agree. That would come to nothing. What purpose would it serve?”

“Should we bring them to meet the… you know… the others?”

“What are you…”

“No! Again. What purpose does that serve? Even if there was some paradoxical anomaly that would happen or not, we don’t want to scar the… children we have here. We need to do something against what we would normally do but not something that would harm what we have here.”

“We could take them somewhere.”

“Where?”

“How about outside of the campus, to the city? Take them somewhere they might enjoy, that they may have looked forward to. Because, obviously from what their expectations are what they have to look forward to was just being interviewed around here.”

“You’re right. Should we all take them?”

“What about the other girls.”

“They’re my girls!”

“Okay. What about the children we have here?”

“Shouldn’t Barbara take them out?”

“I’m not taking them anywhere.”

“Do you have any… compassion for them Barbara?”

“Well… of course I do. They’re just children.”

“Who look, talk, and act exactly like Kaitlyn and Rylee.”

“I talked to them and they are Kaitlyn and Rylee.”

“Why don’t you take them out?”

“Fine. And then what? Take them to a motel?”

“Barbara, you’ve got to take them out. Take them to your home. See how they react. See if… they… enjoy themselves.”

“What about my children?”

“We’ll all take care of them. They’re like our children here too.”

“No. I can’t do it.”

“Not even for the sake of discovery? Or perhaps, somehow, we’ve done something to get this ball rolling. They are your children after all. Maybe all this is our fault.”

“Don’t you manipulate me, Walter. I know my responsibilities as a parent, and it is here with my kids.”

“We could call John, have him come by and take them to his home.”

“Out of the blue like that? I fight him enough for the time he wants to keep them. He’d get suspicious, me all wanting to give them to him now! When we’ve got another court date in a month. He could use that against me.”

“We’ll call him. Tell him it’s an emergency.”

“He’ll want to know what.”

“We’ll tell him we’ve got a big cleanup for the next couple of days.”

“And make him think I’m exposing our children to dangerous situations?”

“Come on, Barbara. You know you’re the only one who can do this. To gauge their reactions and you know them. They are your children.”

“I’ll go with you, Barbara.”

“No. You need to stay here with Kaitlyn and Rylee. They like you best Anton.”

“But you need an impartial observer, someone to record this all: for posterity.”

“I’ll take Karl. He’ll do. He’ll be a good observer, he likes to watch.”

“Hey!”

“Fine. He’ll go with you. Now let’s get you all packed up. I’ll go talk with Kaitlyn and… I mean, the ones in the pantry. Tell them what we’re, you’re going to do. Ask them what they’d like to do.”

“And I’ll go talk to Kaitlyn and Rylee, let them know I’ll be gone 2 or 3 days.”

“Okay, great. You’re really making the right decision here Barbara. We all appreciate it.”

“It better be worth it.”

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Strange Fiction: The Interview

“What is your name?”

“Kaitlyn.”

“Do you know your last name?”

“Yes I do. Do you?”

“Do I what?”

“Know yours, silly.”

“Yes I know my name. But I’d like you to answer the questions though.”

“My name is Kaitlyn Unger, Mr. Anton.”

“So, you know my name then.”

Laughter.

“How old are you?”

“Seven.”

“And do you know the name and age of the girl with you?”

“Duh,” she rolls her eyes, “She is my sister. She is four years old and her name is Rylee.”

“How did you end up outside the facility?”

“My mom said to go out to play.”

“What is your mother’s name?”

“Mom-ma.”

“Do you know her name?”

Hesitation. “Barbara.”

“Have you noticed anything unusual that happened to you lately?”

“Like what?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe bright lights from nowhere, or strange sounds…”

“Do bright lights usually come from nowhere?”

“No, there is usually always a source. Did you notice lights?”

“Nope. Just the sun was out. That’s not… unusual, is it?”

“No, the sun comes out everyday. So nothing out of the ordinary that you remember?”

“Nope. Nothing.”

“Did someone do anything… strange then?”

“What does that mean? You mean like breathe fire or something?”

“No. I mean like,,, um… tell you to do something you didn’t want to do, or put you somewhere you didn’t want to go?”

“No. Every day it’s the same thing.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean we are sent outside to play, then you bring us in here and ask us all these questions.”

“Everyday? You mean we’ve done this before?”

“Duh! We did this yesterday. And the day before that, and afore that, and that, and there and such.”

“You mean you feel like you do this everyday?”

“No. I mean…” deep sigh, “we do this everyday.”

“Okay. How long have you been doing this?”

“For like ever.”

“Like, how many days?”

“Like… um… fifty-ten.”

“When was the last time you did something different?”

“We never do anything else.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, Mom comes and gets us out of the room and makes us go play outside. Then we come in here with you.”

“What else do you do?”

Sighs, “Nooooooothing!”

“Okay. When is your birthday?”

“September… the… a… seventeen.”

“And you had a birthday party, right.”

“I guess.”

“You don’t remember.”

“I think I did.”

“What did you do on your birthday?”

“Ate cake.”

“What kind of cake?”

“The kind you eat… duh!”

“Okay. But what did you do?”

“Birthday party stuff and stuff.”

“What kind of stuff?”

“You know. Eating, and playing, and running and stuff.”

“Right. Tell me something specific you did.”

“What is pacific, um… skapific?”

“I mean, tell me exactly what you did on your birthday.”

Rolls eyes, sighs, “I told ya’. We ate cake and ran.”

“Okay, alright.” Rubs the bridge of his nose. “Tell me what else you do.”

“I’m hungry. Can I eat something?”

“In a minute. We’ll eat when we’re done. Do you remember anything else? Like do you go to school?”

“No. Why do you ask me if I go to school. I don’t go to public school.”

“You don’t go to public school?”

“No.”

“Then how do you learn?”

“Like, with school books and stuff.”

“Do you learn at home?”

“No.”

Rubbing the bridge of his nose, “Okay. Where do you read these school books and stuff.”

“I think maybe here.”

“Maybe here?”

“I think so.”

“Okay, since you’ve done this before. What comes next?”

“Umm… We eat!”

“What do we eat?”

“Whatever we want!”

“Okay. What did you eat yesterday?”

“Um… I think we had a peanut butter and bread. There isn’t a lot to choose from. It’s always the same thing to choose from.”

“Oh yes, always the same. I got it. Then what do you do?”

“Then we talk some more with other people here, and then we go into one cool room after another. And, questions, always questions.”

“What about?”

“How did you get here? Who are you? Who are we? Blah, blah, blah…”

“Hmmm… Do you know what we do here?”

“Sciencey things.”

“Have you ever been to any of the labs.”

“Hello? Like every day!”

“What about lab 19?”

“I don’t know… what’s in lab 19?”

“Well, it’s very large, and very tall, and it has a machine in the middle. It’s kept dark in there, and there are no windows.”

“I don’t think so. Can we go there now? I mean, after we eat?”

“Maybe, but we need to get a few more questions answered before we do. Let’s go get something to eat.”

“Okay! Do you think we can have something different today? Like maybe… some oranges?”

“I don’t know. You know your way around the pantry, right?”

Disappointed. “Yeah, I do. Always the same.”

“Well, we’ll see if we can’t change that. Let’s go.”

 

(This fictional account came from a dream I had the other night. I am trying to see how I can develop it further. Maybe this is it, or maybe it’ll get more broad.)

~Stranger

Experimental Writing

The experienced men all cried, not ashamed to show the world what it truly had learned, that the only way to connect with each other is showing the vulnerability in unity. The women laughed at the joy that had come from seeing the foot that always trodden down, now pushing on rims of shovels in preparation for the seeds to be sown, the dirt turning under the toil darkens with deep earth, sweat and tears of relief. The children run along streets once filled with projectiles unseen, unheard. Running along being chased only by dreams of presence now, now. Fear forgotten, lives living, hands open, reaching out to newness of hearts unfolded, all there, all seen. The green jacket stands as it always will, never to be seen under shadowed eye nor curled down, thick red lips, stained with the juices of hurts accumulated by biting, tearing, gnawing, and cutting. The promise was made, not by man, for man will always break away from pure gold of promises kept, always hoping that next time, next time will all be different and knowing all will be the same. Gold now not pursued, at least not the kind you touch, fight, and fear over, but is seen glittering in the eyes of all. Relate is what is most that matters, matters of worry like ethereal glass, gone in puffs, uncaught and gone. Turning back to ancient ways, forgotten from eons past. Looking down the people see walking ways so familiar they can go backwards in the wide and wearisome paths. Turn! TURN! There are better ways they cry. Not to choose a path broke by numerous feet trampled, but one less worn, some cross before, not seeing such light and grace. True walkers need not feel their way, the path is led before them, by scarred prints now not weighted with what was. But before all shines the sky eternal, unbroken, non static in it’s signs, shows to all the sun that come, brings warmth but not to burn, but shine it will. But where’d it go they wonder still, for it was always there. But now the light is what always surrounds them, giving what is due from time unwinding. Light. Light. light… All is light. Inside, all around, feet lifted from dirt and mire. Cleansed afresh like never before it all absorbs the lightness, from the memory comes the times when they were the ones who trodded.

(Credit to Woza Wanderer for the beautiful picture: here)

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