Ta-da. On time and on budget. Well, I’m pushing this out before I go for dinner. So I’ll update this more in a little bit. Enjoy!
And now I’m back from dinner. Roast beef. Yes it was quite good, thanks for asking. This has had it’s edit so hopefully it makes sense. If you spot anything that’s particularly crazy let me know. As usual I have some comments after the story.
I like this scene and it’s a story that will be developed further. One day. 1026 words, urban fantasy, dark. Rated teen.
Click below to read.
“Can I tell you something?” Claire asks, a little too loudly. Sarah, looks over at her and nods.
“Sure.” she says. Claire rips open brown sachets of sugar. Collecting them together and tipping the lot into the bright yellow wide cup. After a few moments and some stirring, she walks back over to where Sarah is waiting, walking slow trying not to spill.
“When I was a girl,” Claire hesitates, speaking softly, carefully, “I used to talk to animals and they could understand me.”
“Oh yeah?” Sarah replies, then “Thanks.” as she takes her drink.
They walk a few paces over to the front of ‘Iron Sides’, the nearest coffee place to Sarah’s condo, and sit at the battered but solid table by the window. Claire had thought she had a game plan of how to explain this, but it wasn’t really working. It sounded pretty weird even to her. She’d only told her brother before now, and he’d only laughed and punched her in the arm. That was over two feet in height and a decade or so ago.
“Not like horses, and stuff, but different things. Other-animals, things that are not normal.” Sarah sipped, at her coffee before replying.
“Well, I bet a lot of young girls do something like that.” Sarah tried to encourage Claire to continue, this was something bothering her. “I mean, otherwise explain unicorns, right?” Claire had been looking tired and now this early morning strangeness. She was concerned.
“Yeah. But no. Not like mythical horses with horns. This is real.” Claire stared at her latte, then out of the window before meeting her best friends eyes. “Well. For a while I stopped seeing them. The other-animals, that is. As I got older, you know. I thought I’d just grown out of it.”
“So no more invisible, mythical horses with horns then?”
“No, not horses.” Claire replied with a tight smile.
“Good. It’d be hard having an invisible horse in your house. Imagine the crap appearing everywhere.” They both smile briefly, it faltered on Claire’s lips first.
“I can see them again.”
“The … other-animals?” Sarah asked. Claire nodded.
“Yes.” She added in a quiet voice.
“That’s, er, concerning. Everything alright?” Sarah said, she put down her coffee sharply.
“Yes, tell me about it. I can’t talk to them, or they are not listening. But! You know what?” Claire’s eyes brightened, sitting forward she half whispered. “I can take their picture.”
“Seriously. Hang on.” Claire bends, pulling at the flap on her messenger bag, the velco loud in the small store. “I borrowed James’ old iPad.”
“Yes,” Claire replied, struggling with the bag, “cute James.”
“So are you … ?”
“Kinda. We’re just friends though.”
“’Kinda, eh. Nice. What’s he like?” Sarah smirked.
“Look,” Claire said quietly, placing the iPad on the table and swiping her finger to start it. She pressed Camera Roll and angled the screen between the two of them. A rabbit, hairless aside from a Mohawk, leaned against a warm rock, arm spines drooping as it dozed. Sarah swiped through the photos. A cat crossed with a bird, it looked like it was grinning madly. A round rodent whose mouth wrapped almost entirely around the body, squared teeth protruding, and many more. Half a dozen images in Sarah stopped on the picture of a fay couple, balanced on Claire’s bedroom windowsill. They were either making out or already engaged in foreplay, easy to tell as they were male and visibly excited.
“Well … shit.” Sarah finally murmured.
“I’m just happy that the first thing you said wasn’t ‘Photoshop’.”
“I’ve seen you try and use Photoshop, you are not this good.” Sarah slowly swiped across more images. “I wondered what was up. I didn’t expect this. It’s for real?”
“Yes. I see one of them nearly every day now. Look at seventeen.” Sarah skipped a couple of pictures forward. It was big, half the height of a car and nearly the length – a dog’s shape with rhino like armour, skin pockets bulged down its sides, a large mouth displaying carnivore teeth. It was looking directly at the camera.
“What the … ? If I saw this on the street I’d have run, or peed myself, or both.” Sarah said, then paused, “Wait, you said they didn’t see you, or hear you, right?”
“Well, that’s what’s worrying me.” Claire replied. “Go to twenty-seven. It’s another scary one.” Sarah swiped on.
“Terrifying!” She added, as twenty-seven displayed a gerbil like creature with a wide face and long floppy ears. “Way more frightening than the thing that looks like it can chew through walls.”
“Ha, ha.” Claire ironically said, “No, next one maybe.” She leaned over and swiped. Sarah stared at the image.
“Mmm.” A tall, thin man stood some way back from the camera. Paler than a human, his well-defined body showed no fat or imperfections. A squared off leather poncho fit him like a saddle bag, resting over his shoulders to the front and back, large pockets visible on the ends at the front. A large dark leather belt, again with large pockets to both sides of the buckle, hung lopsidedly around his hips. Scratched leather boots were tight on his calves and that was all he wore. In the image he was impossibly hung, but it wasn’t possible to say if he was flaccid or semi-erect.
“No. Not mmm. Look.” Claire flicked forward, the same pale man showed up several more times. He was dressed the same in each, the fourth picture showed claw marks down one side of his body running into his thigh. They were gone again in the fifth, he was crouching near a post box, staring at the camera. The sixth image of him was much closer than the others. His neutral face in near profile. His eyes were deep red and entirely emotionless, his ears had points but not as sharp as those on his teeth. His mouth was filled with animal-like teeth, small, neat and very sharp.
“Sarah,” Claire said softly, “I think he can see me. I think he’s following me.”
“Shit. Why? What would he want?” She looked up, Claire was staring at her, her eyes wide.
“Me. I’m scared he wants me.”
MJ Cook – Have you ever noticed the difference between how you talk aloud and how characters in a book talk aloud? Sometimes the difference is slight. Sometimes it’s like comparing an ant to an octopus. Very different. Why is this? Easy to answer, it’s freaking hard to write life like dialogue.
I love character driven pieces, conversation is wonderful in print. If it is done right. Look at Douglas Adams, his plots are terrible, his characters amazing. You could lose a limb on the sharpness of his dialogue. His work is driven by wonderful characters and their conversations. He’s the opposite of HP Lovecraft who famously avoids dialogue like it is some deadly infection set to take over his work. So this week I wanted to do a conversation that paints the story. Not much action this week folks, just lots of talking. I hope you find that as interesting as me!
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