Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Writing Sample: "Come See It"

Well, it's been a while since I offered up any writing samples here on my blog, so how about another one now?

This is an impromptu piece I did for a prompt at the Creative Copy Challenge.  If you've read this blog for a while, you know that this site offers a prompt of ten words, and encourages you to come up with a story using the prompt words.

For this prompt, the words were a tough group, all pulled from the same section under the letters "Bo" in the dictionary: 

  1. Botulism
  2. Bouillabaisse
  3. Bougainvillea
  4. Boulevard 
  5. Bouffant
  6. Boudoir
  7. Boulangerie
  8. Boondocks
  9. Bosun
  10. Bosom

Out of these, the word 'Boondocks' kind of jumped out at me, and I came up with an idea about something out in a cabin in the woods, and a kid being scared to go see it.

The piece was intentionally left unresolved, because I wanted to experiment with a suspenseful "what-will-happen?" ending.  But I'm not sure it works, and I may actually visit this again at some point, and use it as the basis of a longer story.

This version has been edited slightly for clarity.  If you're interested, the original off-the-cuff version can be seen HERE.

I hope you enjoy it -- as always, comments, suggestions, and any feedback are always welcome.


"Come See It"

Morris held his breath and inched up to peer out the rear window.  He hoped it still wasn't out there.
But it was. 
Dancing among the shadows that flew across the trees along the road, it was a pulsating, swirling mass of darkness.  It swooped and swerved, keeping pace alongside the car, but always staying out of the glare of the headlights. 
Morris almost cried out, but clenched his eyes shut and lowered himself from the rear window, pulling his pillow close and burying his face.  He didn't want to say anything.  It would only get his mom and dad upset.  They had already told him to please stop making things up and just go to sleep.
Morris shivered and fought back tears.  He didn't understand why they couldn't see it.  His mom kept looking out the window in that direction, but she never seemed to notice the whirling blackness.  How could she not see it?
It had started following them ever since they turned off the interstate highway onto this road.  It looked like a fluttering swarm of small, glossy black bugs, flitting and heaving, with pinpoint flashes erupting in the middle of it, like a million tiny eyes all blinking and staring at him.  When he tried to focus on any part of it, it would stretch and thin, vibrating and fading, but it never became invisible.  He could always still see it. 
Why couldn't his mom?
Whenever they went through any well-lit area, it would disappear, climbing until it vanished into the dark, cloudy sky.  But as soon as they drove away from the lights, it would come back, a little closer, a little bigger, and always following them as they sped along the dark and empty road. 
Morris had screamed out when he first saw it, and his dad had stopped the car.  But the spinning blackness had dissolved as Morris watched, trailing away in wisps of murky shadow, and his parents were never able to see it, even when they looked right at it. 
They didn't bother to stop the second time Morris cried out; they looked out the windows where Morris was pointing, but still saw nothing.  The third time Morris tried to get them to look, his father didn't even slow the car, and Morris could tell they were getting irritated.  And they still never saw it.
His mom said she thought Morris might be feeling the effects of the spicy bouillabaisse he'd eaten for supper when they'd stopped at that truck stop at the Interstate exit.  She was worried that Morris was getting hallucinations, maybe from a case of botulism.  She had felt his forehead and made his dad stop to get some Pepto-Bismol at a dingy gas station, and insisted Morris get some sleep.  But the Pepto hadn't helped, and Morris couldn't sleep, and the blackness kept coming back.  
Now, after crossing another lit crossroads, it had returned again, bigger, closer, and swirling faster than before, and Morris was terrified.
He ground his face deeper into the pillow and tried to stop thinking about it.  He tried to listen to his parents, who were talking quietly in the front seat, without any sign of knowing that the horrible thing was following them, or that Morris was wide awake and listening.
"I really wish the place had electricity," Morris's mom said, probably for the tenth time.  She didn't enjoy camping or being out in the woods, and normally wouldn't have joined him and his dad on a trip to "somewhere out in the boondocks," as she called it.  She frequently said she preferred "sleeping in sanctity of her own boudoir."  She usually said she'd rather "stroll along the boulevard of some shopping district and pick up lunch at a quaint boulangerie" than to "be surrounded by bugs and have them crawl across her bosom while she tried to sleep."  She typically said her hair would get so frizzy without soft water that it would "look like she'd decided to go bouffant."  
But this time his mom hadn't said any of that. This time she had come along, although Morris wasn't sure why.  At first Morris thought it would be fun to have his mom with them to share Morris's first visit to his grandfather's cabin, to see her try to fish and to hike in the woods. 
Now, thinking of the thing following them, Morris wished none of them had come, and that they were all back at home.
"I guess the bosun wanted to keep it rustic," his dad said.  He called Morris' grandfather "the bosun" because they had served on the same ship in the Navy.  Morris had heard a gazillion times how his mom and dad had met, with his dad always laughing that he ended up marrying the bosun's daughter.  Normally it would make Morris smile to think of his dad's goofy grin, but Morris couldn't bring himself to smile now.
"I'm going to hate it," Morris's mom said.
"Come on," his dad said.  "You didn't mind it when you went up to the cabin as a kid, did you?"
"I never went.  Mom wouldn't let Dad take any of us kids up there."
"Really?  I never knew that.  Why didn't your mom want you coming?"
"I don't know.  She never told us.  Maybe she just wanted us to be like her, planting daisies and bougainvillea in her flower beds instead of traipsing around through poison ivy."
Morris's dad snorted.  "It worked.  Now I see where you got it from," he said.
"Well whatever the reason, all I know is that the cabin was a very sore subject."
Morris shifted and removed his face from the pillow, but he couldn't bring himself to look outside.  He knew it was still there.
Why was it following them?  What did it want? 
Morris felt tears forming in his eyes.  He thrust his face back in the pillow to hide the tears.  He didn't want to cry.  His parents probably already thought he was being a baby.
"So now, with your mom gone, I guess the Bosun is happy he finally gets to share it with us," Morris's dad said.
"I guess," his mom said.  "He's sure excited about Morris coming up.  He said he has something special to share with him.  Something he found when he was a kid."
His dad grunted.  "Probably an old tree house or something."
"Who knows?"  His mom sighed.  "But this is one thing he really seemed to want, and he'll probably have to sell the place soon."
Morris felt the tears coming harder.  He didn't want to be here.  He didn't want to see whatever his grandfather had to show him.  He wanted to be home, away from here and whatever that horrible black thing was.
"Although," his mom said. "When I tried to mention about him selling the place, Dad smiled and said that after seeing the cabin and the 'special thing,' Morris would want us to keep it."
Morris shuddered and pushed his face deeper into the pillow.
He knew he would hate it.  Right now he didn't want to see anything.

* * *
 (c) Copyright 2011, Christopher J. Fries.


Milo James Fowler said...

The last line is perfect; clinches everything nicely. Only suggestion: maybe remove some of the "b" words in the final edit -- even though it's impressive that you managed to squeeze them all in!

Chris Fries said...

Thanks, Milo! I appreciate the kind words and the suggestion, and you're absolutely right -- if I ever come back to this and use it as the basis of a larger story, basically all of the 'b' prompt words would be edited out to streamline the plot.