#13Stories Days 3 & 4

I didn’t realize how difficult this project was going to be when I excitedly started tweeting about it only a few short days ago. If I were to be honest, I thought that maybe I would have a bit of an advantage because I was writing the prompts as well. Reader, I am here to tell you otherwise! I spent so much time trying to come up with ideas, making graphics, tweeting, and reading/supporting the works that other people have been doing (shout out to Brenton and A. J. Vrana for their support and participation, their stories have been a delight) I genuinely did not spend much time on fleshing out ideas. This, however, is in the true spirit of pumping out these pieces of flash fiction, even if they are terrible (like some of these most certainly are).

I…have nothing to show for this prompt. I thought it was such a cute idea! And I really would like more Halloween stories from the perspective of animals, witch’s familiars, and Halloween creatures of all types (if you haven’t yet read A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny, please do yourself a favor and get it immediately). Alas! I had no ideas for this at all from a strictly written word position. I have instead obsessed over a textless comic representation of this scenario. I have begun to plot that out, and it may or may not work. My artistic skills are of the slow and unskilled variety. And this is how #13Stories turned into Inktober by accident. To err is human, or so they say. I guess I now finally have that proof that I am human, after all. What? *whistles*

With this prompt I again tried to challenge myself by writing something outside of my comfort zone–a story written entirely in Second Person. I hate the result with my whole heart. The idea came as a joking aside in a response on a twitter discussion of this prompt–you know, where the best ideas come from⸮ When I shared my work with A. J. before dropping it here, she said it reminded her of a Goosebumps story, one of the choose your own adventure sort(this goes a long way to explain why I picked a Gossebumps book cover for my featured photo). So, because there is honestly nothing spookier…

Goosebumps: The Racist Caricature of America Choose Your Own (white) Adventure

You always forget how cold it gets this late in October. The wind bites at your nose and catches at your collar, exposing sensitive skin to the chill clutches of the autumn air. Small puffs of steam escape your lips as you stamp your feet in place, glancing up and down the deserted street in search of your bus. I guess I will have to walk, you think, as you shrug the strap of your bag higher on your shoulder and reflexively tug your jacket closer around you. 

You don’t like walking home. The route is deserted, and the road takes you along the giant lake that borders the town. There is always something eerie about being alone on the water, with the naked branches of the trees clawing at both the sky and the mirrored surface— you feel surrounded out there in all of the open air. 

“This is ridiculous,” you say to yourself as you trudge forward, “There is nothing in the lake, there is no one around, you are going to be fine.”

You shove your hands into your pockets and tuck your chin against your chest, pushing forward against the headwind. Periodically, you pull out your hands to blow into them, in equal measure to warm your cupped fingers and warm your lips and nose, which have begun to feel quite stiff and frozen. Your breath condenses in your hands, making a slight dampness, an unnerving clamminess. Wiping your palms against your thighs, you notice your pale skin beginning to turn purple and mottled from the cold.

I should have brought gloves, you think. 

With your hands still at your sides, you suddenly hear a splash in the water to your left. You pause as you turn to look, feeling foolish as your heart rate rises with anxiety. Why do I always feel so nervous here? 

And just as you are about to shake it off and move on with your painful march, you feel a hand, icier than the surface of the placid lake in February, grip your own with such force your whole body jerks around. You look at your hand, now a shocking white from this frozen vice and see…nothing. There is no one there, and the invisible grip on your hand is getting tighter. Your eyes widen in fear as realization hits. You force yourself to slowly turn your head toward the lake. There in the reflection, you see them.

Their faces, all pale and swollen with the bloat of long-time exposure to excess, ripple on the surface, their hands all outstretched. You notice the reflection your own hand amid the twine of their fingers, completely encased in their grasping. Your face is frozen in a mask of fear.

 “Come with us!” they gurgle, their grinning faces and shining teeth a grotesquery.

“No, Mr. Monopoly Man!” you say as you plant your feet and lean backward, trying to pry your hand free. “No, Justice Scalia! Please, Ebenezer, I thought you had changed!”

The hands come faster and pull harder as you try to plead your case. “Listen, President Jackson, hear me out. I promise that I have never erred in the True American tradition. Honest. There has never been a person as honest as me.” You raise your hand high in salute as though to prove your point. You are suddenly, somehow, hugging an American flag.

Oh, we know,” they answer back, “we only need you to continue the good work. Must increase shareholder value by improving production—absorb new assets, men and women brave enough to make the ultimate sacrifice with no need for vacation time, health benefits, workday restrictions, and any of that PC social justice nonsense. You understand. You aren’t gay, are you?” 

You try to respond, but notice that they are all already ignoring you. Like a school of fish, and surprisingly agile for such a motley crew, they surge downward into the depths of the murky water, dragging you inexplicably behind them. One of them separates from the group and approaches you. Oh, its Jim Clark, you think. Good ol’ Jim will help me out.

With a wide grin and a cop’s swagger that somehow manages to translate down in the depths of a freezing lake, he opens his mouth to speak. Your field of vision begins to narrow and darken, lack of oxygen, you realize sluggishly. He leans in real close and places his hand on your shoulder and says, as the last of your consciousness slips away, “Now son, we really just couldn’t do this without you.”

Well, that’s all for now! May your pens be ever inky, may your pumpkins be ever spicy, and may the Hallowriting bug be always bitey. Additionally, may I always remember that I hate writing second person with my whole soul. Forever and ever, amen.

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