Dark Alice

(the opening of something I wrote a few years ago, still waiting to be developed or sent to the Recycling Bin in the sky)

 

Alice hit the ground hard.

And knew something was wrong.

This was no rabbit hole. It was stone. Slabs of stone. And dark. So dark.

Alice couldn’t see her purple mittens in front of her eyes. She stared and stared. Slowly, very slowly, pale fingertips came into focus. She sat up, forced herself to her feet, stretched hands out around her. There was nothing to touch.

Time passed without a tick-tock. The darkness seemed lighter now.

A light dark. Alice giggled. A light dark? That was silly.

She bent her knees and felt around on the ground. Her fingers found cold stone and gaps. Paving stones maybe? Alice inched sideways. The stones went on to the right. But to the left her fingers discovered a drop. A gutter. So, a road?

She took a step forwards, keeping the gutter to her left. The darkness definitely seemed less dark. Alice scraped her booted feet on the stone slabs. She didn’t want another fall. To where? Further downwards? Can you fall forever? She giggled again. What would it be like to fall for eternity?

Alice stopped. Kept still. She smoothed her dark purple dress. A dress that fell to her knees. Her favourite dress. Alice fingered her long black hair and let it fall down past her shoulders. She adjusted her hairband. Composed and neat Alice stepped forward again.

“And just where do you think you are going?” a voice boomed in her ear.

Alice spun around, too fast, a dizziness swam inside her head. She nearly fell. Again.

Something even darker than the darkness took up space in front of her. Alice giggled. How can anything be darker than the dark?

“Answer the question, please,” boomed the voice a second time.

Alice begun to make out a spindly shape. She was sure she could discern long arms and longer legs. And probably a body too, which would make sense. Alice giggled. Imagine arms and legs with no body! Too silly.

“My name is Alice. I fell here. Just now.”

“A Faller! I haven’t seen one of those for at least 500 years. My word.”

Alice could now make out a pale face. Long and thin. A nose crooked, and straggly hair sticking out from under a tall tattered hat.

“A Faller? I suppose I must be, since I fell. But this is no rabbit hole.”

“What’s a rabbit?”

Alice sighed. This was hard work. She rested her hands on her hips.

“Is there no light in this place?”

“Of course there is. Once the Switch is switched. In about a short time.”

Alice blew out her cheeks.

“Haven’t you got a torch or something?”

The shape in front of her moved. A light blazed. Alice stepped back and shielded her eyes. As the light dimmed to a comfortable level she gasped.

“Your finger is alight!”

The tall thin gentleman, whom she could now see quite clearly, smiled. And not very pleasantly. He bent down to come face to face with Alice.

“I’m very clever with my fingers. As you may well find out.”

Alice gulped. She thought about running. But where to? Into the darkness?

“Come now, girl Alice. Let’s go to my house for refreshment.”

A long arm shot out. It grasped Alice’s right forearm. A firm tug and she was being dragged along behind the spectral figure. Into the darkness.

Alice was pulled for miles. That’s what it seemed like to her anyway. It was probably just a few hundred yards.

“Here we are. Home. Your new home.”

“I don’t want a new home,” said Alice as she gazed through the gloom at the shambles of a house in front of her. The building had at least three floors. It could be more but the darkness wrapped itself around the top of the house. It was made of wood, old and worn wood. Grubby and peeling. Weeds grew everywhere on the ground. A gate hung from one hinge.

“Well, it’s yours now, so there.”

The gentleman, who was not so gentle and thus Alice decided to call him just ‘the man’ from now on, tugged her past the gate and up cracked wooden steps towards the black front door.

“Hey, let go, sir. I don’t require a new home. And you’re hurting my arm.”

“Be quiet, girl Alice. The hurt won’t hurt for long.” He chuckled, though to Alice it sounded like the chuckling came from deep inside his stomach. The door swung open as the man barged inside. Alice was pulled in behind.

The inside seemed darker than outside. It smelt. Of old age and neglect. And something else. Something not very nice. The man clicked his finger and light blazed from it again. Using the flickering digit he lit two oil lamps on a faded white mantelpiece. Two threadbare armchairs, a low table and an empty bookcase completed the dingy room.

“Enough!” exclaimed Alice as she dug her boot heels into the creaking wooden floorboards. “Let go.”

The man turned his head, lowered it until he was face to face with Alice and smiled. Alice grimaced at the foul air emanating from his narrow lips.

“But, little girl Alice, we’ve only just begun. I haven’t seen a Faller for so, so long. The last one only lasted me 103 years. I’ve been so lonely since then.”

His tongue licked along his lips as his faded grey eyes lit up.

Alice swept her right foot back. And kicked. Hard. The man screamed, released her and clutched his left shin. Alice turned and ran. To the door. Through the door. And out. Into the dark darkness.

And she fell. Again.

 

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Girl on a bridge

(written a little while ago with a female narrator, something I try occasionally)

Summer time beats up lives, and consequences spread far beyond autumnal fall. The heat, the laziness, the empty time, all too tempting, days galloping into others, no boundaries of occupation or study, no barriers to emotions, no decorum. But maybe just dulce et decorum est mori.

He found me whiling away life in a coffee shop of no repute, serving capricious cappuccinos and  lecherous lattes to smooth-leering son-of-bitches, lazing louchely in chairs, cigarettes suggestive, gold chains goading, eyes tracing legs and rears like hunters at a waterhole.  Tapping tabletop with platinum card he beckoned, no words, a glance at cold gritted remains deep engrained in a cup. I smiled, wondering what dust he inhaled at night on that card.

His eyes crawled after me, felt their way up stockinged legs, across bloused top and I shudder where else. The tip beneath the saucer suggested caffeine was not the only stimulant he sought. Tucking it discreetly, knowing he watched afar, grin growing at the little girl gratified, I ran a hand through locks of auburn light and walked unturning.

Expresso became lunch, light and oiled, refusing service unless me. Dodging withering words mouthed by fly-by-night waitresses, I attended attentively, drawn by eyes and attitude, and money and freedom. A wrist caught signified stakes updated, long fingers encircling skin and bone, a clasp of ownership.

Eyes met; mine questioned, his laughed.

A finger unwound, grazed hairs, electrifying erotica. Eyes remained; mine unsure, his demanding. Hand slid up, curling under elbow, drawing down, no resistance encountered.

Eyes burned; mine curious, his victorious.

Words whispered, swarming inside my ear, twisting and seducing, curling up at home. Releasing, he knew the answer, before me, as I moved violated yet beguiled.

Returning relentlessly, his table my world, each visit vicarious, each order a slice off my life. Hands clasped, fingers resting on hips, arms encasing shoulders, my personal space became his, my time bought, my freedom confined.

An evening stroll, warm breeze humming with hubris, he promised his world; travel tantalising on heated horizons, clothes wardrobed along streets of couturiers, villas visualised reflected in Mediterranean blue. I fought sense and sensibility; and lost, lost in a world unknown, a world portrayed in magazine gloss, a heart smothering worries, a summer long odyssey of love’s many ports beckoning.

Crossing the bridge, from my world to his, my Rubicon step one late simmering evening, I met his stare, breathed in the embrace, intoxicated with worship. The path walked on, deeper to his sphere, no villa unveiled, no yacht’s yawl bobbing, no jewels jousting in fingers. Darker the wood, my heart shrank back, lifting the layered rose-tint. I felt his hands true at last, the touch severe, the skin coarse, the rapid throb of veins beneath.

Querying the quest, his eyes turned, honed for violence, pretence pretentious, grip swung sharp. I fell, as deception fell away too, a victim awaiting.

Now I sit upon the bridge, the prodigal returned, unsure if innocence can be re-won, bloodied stone resting in deep depths beneath, cast off like my foolishness, resting wet and cold, as he does, under a tree, life-blood feeding the earth.

 

 

Train of Thought

(A story I wrote sometime last year, using the hyphenated style)

The first carriage; heart-stopping, alcohol-hazed, dry lips mouth-mouthing words of double-dutched ineptitude, he opened the gambit with her. Her. The blonde lobbed hair, wild-hanging calculated cut, wrapping a face denuded of make-up, diffidently demanding adoration.

The second carriage; the dinner diary-dated in heavy pencil, circled and gouged in disbelief, with time counted down in seconds over hours. Clothes mirror-stared in multi-coloured disarrangements, mismatched for a perfect match. The awkward answerings across a table plastic flower posed and house-wined, wished-for lives exchanged in nervous narrations, deciphering the content for half-truths disguised within, eyes mind-reading the true intentions inner concealed. Goodbye smiles slipped between glad glances at a door marked Exit and Freedom, a tentative talk of texts and calls okayed with half-convicted conviction.

The third carriage; inhibitions uninhibited, clothes unclothed, all bared except the soul secret-suspicious, bodies tango-tangled around duvets shredded in unpaced passion with minds conjuring the unshared images of lovers wished for and out of reach. A hand-held touch, relief equal mixed in indecision with window-stared thoughts glass-rebounded, until palms sweat-swipe apart and fumble-find clothes to disguise the cold unpassioned skins before glances can photo-pick flaws smooth-shopped by earlier desperate desires.

The third carriage; families familiarised, glimpses of her in future years, fuller, wrinkle-creased, heavy-thighed. The parents’ ordered house of ordered years, generations frame-ranked and invisible future frames floating for filling by you and her. The father’s strong-handed handshake challenging control, the old order’s last stand to protect their eternal child; the cool light weak touch of the mother resisting a touch tendering ownership of the family’s human shares.

The fourth carriage; aisle-ambled, stained glass streaming, he waits for her, heart tight-folded. ‘I do’s echo-sound, murmured by ghosts of long dust-ground lovers; ‘I don’t’s whisper up cracked stone slabs from heart-broken ethereal voices. Glasses later raised like spirits, clink saluting speeches rewritten till fiction becomes almost truth and drunken cheers drown behind hand-hid gossiped slights.

The fifth carriage; he caught a floating wisp-waft of aftershave unknown, a fleeting flicker lying air-cushioned on her blouse collar and neck skin. The eyes leaving contact scarce seconds early but half-noted in a black-doored corner conscience, the lost distance stare mid conversation self-corrected too late and logged alongside late homecomings flushed and febrile, and the semi-smile lip-lingering with kisses shallow and slight.

The sixth carriage; he waits dark enshrouded, hoodied-hidden, watching and watchful, hands deep pocketed next to sharp-edged retribution. She passes alone, thoughts deep-woven of another, heart beat-beating in recaught teenage angst, sees not him, shadow stood, nor when he enters full light lit at home as she follows a routine daydream dreamt.

The seventh carriage; as he slides a knife blade, sleek and vengeful, skin splitting open like a guilt-weighted soul, and she slides spit-splutter down the door, her eyes unsurprised in understanding.

The eighth carriage; as he turns the blade, wet washed with her blood, and slices himself, their bloods mingling as the train station-stops in sympathy.

 

 

Home thoughts from a dark walk

 

I knew it was a bad idea walking home at night. It takes too long. Ten minutes on the bus, thirty by foot. Thirty minutes is too long, it gives my mind time to flicker between the most stupid of things, rather than concentrate on the one most important item that should be running through my brain right now.

First to burst centre stage as I walk past the new house development is Marc Almond. That record of his has been going through my head every five minutes, it seems to be on the radio every five minutes. Great song, ‘A Different Kind Of Love’, a last amazing long note held by the former Soft Cell singer which seems longer than many complete songs. I found the video on YouTube, wonderfully quirky as always with Almond. And here I am stepping off the kerb and the chorus wells up yet again inside my head. Please, Radio 2, have a new record of the week tomorrow. Please. Of course, Carol can’t stand Marc…

Must pay the council tax tomorrow. Really should have set up the direct debit last year, but we were planning to move house so I thought it easier to pay for a few months by debit card each month. I didn’t expect to still be in the same house twelve months later. And having to remember to pay online each month. Just wish Carol would stop nagging me about it.

Ah, it’s Line Of Duty tonight, wonder if I’ll get time to watch it. Looks promising, but not yet in the same league as the story line with Keeley Dawes a few years ago. And must remember to record Homeland. Suppose Carol will be watching that Eastenders crap.

Front lawn needs doing, meant to do it Wednesday, then it bloody rained on Thursday, didn’t it? Typical. Stupid forecasters saying it would be dry all week. And where was the heat wave promised last week?

Writers’ Group Monday, might have to give that a miss, obviously. Maybe not though, could play it cool, couldn’t I? Haven’t got anything written, I’ll have to rehash something from last year, they’ll never notice, most of them are only there for the coffee anyway. And if I hear one more poem. Carol likes to write poetry, doesn’t she? Typical.

Look at that prat parked there. Two wheels up on the kerb. How’s a mother with a buggy meant to get by? Or an elderly person on a mobility scooter? Plenty of room if he parked properly on the road. I should go around photographing these idiots then email them to the local press. Or start up a Twitter feed to expose these parking idiots.

Should’ve worn my other jacket tonight, but didn’t know I was walking home, did I? This one’s fine for showers but the wind cuts straight through. So hard to find any with two decent-sized pockets. Where do people carry their keys and wallet these days? One pocket just isn’t enough. And the mobile. Can’t stand jamming my trousers with so many bits and pieces. Carol bought me this one last Christmas, didn’t she?

Home at last. Really should have decided this on the way back, shouldn’t I?. Knife or pillow? Now, let’s think…Carol’s surprisingly strong, isn’t she? Don’t fancy a wrestling match on that rickety old bed.

Damn knife drawer, I never did get round to oiling it…

 

 

Friday post

Working on another piece using a prompt from my Writers’ Group agenda. Good to be back writing something other than the novellas. It also makes those seem fresher when I return to them.

This piece is about walking home at night. I’ve decided to go for another dark aspect, about a guy letting his thoughts wander as he walks, just our minds do most of the day, jumping from one unconnected topic to another and failing to concentrate on the most important thing. In this case, which is the best way to do away with his wife. Nicely dark.

With the first novella I have finished the first edit and I was going to leave it there and find one or two publishers to send it off to. But I would quite like to put it up on Kindle, I like to see my work actually ‘in print’, even though it means I won’t sell many copies as I’m not very good at the self-marketing thing. I don’t know how people can put up so much true information about themselves online – photos, backgrounds, etc. I’m too worried my details will get stolen and misused somewhere.

I’ve also decided I need to go through the novella again to double-check if I have left in any ineffective or over clever hyphenated words. It’s a case of getting a balance between using them to give the story a unique edge and not overdoing it and trying to be too clever for my own sake. I need to be more objective and leave in the ones which really do add something to the style.

Break for lunch…might as well publish this.