Tag Archives: fiction

Saturday Shorts: Country Roads

Country Roads

Even with the heater going full blast, Susan could barely feel her fingers for the cold. Her thick mittens did little to take the bone deep chill of the truck cabin away. The snow fell thickly outside, reflecting the headlights of the truck in odd ways, making the road more treacherous than it already was, the wipers working furiously. The snow danced like ghosts across the stretch of abandoned back road.

Susan hated early mornings, when the sun was still hours away from rising, and absolutely loathed the cold. Despite these certainties, she loved the snow, as it was beautiful in its own way. It was part of the reason she had stayed in North Dakota, despite her hatred of winter. The other reason she had stayed for so many years was why she was up at such an ungodly hour in the first place, driving when it was likely that every weather and news station in the county was advising against even going out your front door.

The trailer she was towing behind the truck pulled along, following in the ruts created by the full ton trucks winter tires. For all Susan knew, she wasn’t even driving on the actual road, since the only markers that made the stretch a road in this weather was her ingrained memory from having come this way countless times before. Hell, she almost missed the turn off indicator as she came up to it, though in reality it was not an official demarcation of destination, just an old oak tree, branches now heavy with snow, the indicated she had reached her turn. With a hard jerk on the wheel, she managed to make the cut, the chains on her tires gripping the snow and the gravel below it to keep her from sliding; the trailer bounces along behind. In this storm, the tree was her only indication that she was at the pasture. The snow was so uniformly white and even that it was all muscle memory and reflex at this point, keeping her calm and steady behind the wheel.

Another five minutes of steady travel into the pasture, and she was actually beginning to be able to feel her fingers, though it could just as easily been the beginnings of frostbite, as she had had a brush or two with that in the past. It would have been glorious to be able to sit in the cabin of the truck, as the warmth began to slowly leach away the battering cold, but she was at her destination and there was no time to dawdle. She was not the only thing that was likely feeling cold, as it was  ‘ not fit for man nor beast out there’, as her dad had been want to say when he was alive.

With a deft twist, Susan cut the lights on the truck, and shifted to neutral, letting the truck and trailer roll forward to a slow and steady stop. Reaching up, she made sure her knit cap was pulled down tight over her ears, meeting the edge of the heavy scarf she had wound round and round her neck. Quickly, as if she were removing a band-aid, she threw the truck door open and jumped down, trudging through the near knee-high snow towards the back of the trailer. From inside, these was the distinctive sound of hooves on metal, and puffs of steam rose from the small ventilation windows. The bleating of a handful or tired and upset sheep echoed off the bare trailer walls, as the flock made its protest known. The smell of wet wool and lanolin was just strong enough to cut over the cold and crisp air of the storm, which numbed the nose almost to the point of being useless.

Susan could hardly blame the sheep for being disagreeable, their foul mood was something she could relate to, given the circumstances. Being pulled from warm stocks at herded into a semi warm trailer at 3;00 AM would have that effect on anyone, though some would be able to protest in much more horrendous fashions. Susan lowered her scarf ever so slightly and let loose two short, shrill whistles that cut over the wind, and the sheep settled somewhat in the trailer, letting out a few soft baa’s as back talk.

Despite the thickness of her gloves, the little bit of warmth she had begun to feel was already bleeding away, so Susan made quick work of removing the dual lock and pins that held the back ramp in place. The ramp sank down into the snow, not resting fully level, but angling enough that it would be a short transition of trailer to ground for her charges. The latch that held the rolling door secure was a little bit more tricky, especially as the snow continued to fall and quickly cover every surface it could, but years of repetition made quick work of the obstacle. As the door rolled up the sheep, who had been huddled together near the back of the trailer, began moving forward toward the ramp, more out of habit than from any command, given that this was not their first time being transported. Susan moved away from the back of the trailer, the sheep descending the ramp into the snow one after the other in some bizarre game of follow the leader. Once the last of the flock, seven in total, had founds its way down the ramp and did not look like it would be retreating back into the trailer, Susan made quick work of closing the rolling door and locking the ramp back up, before she slowly worked her way back to the open door of the cabin, making sure none of the sheep tried to follow her. They stayed where the were, huddling together in the snow-covered field, their wool blending in with the snow while their black faces stood in stark contrast, even in the relative darkness.

Putting one foot back into the cabin and hoisting herself up with the door, Susan let loose another shrill series of whistles, which set the sheep into a nervous stomping. Taking a deep breath, the cold cutting her lungs like knives, she raised her voice over the storm, shouting into the darkness;

“Come out and get them, they’re all yours!”

With a quick pull and a dive across the seats, her  head down with her arms over it, Susan slammed the door behind her, just as the whoosh of something larger and heavier than a jet engine overtook the pasture, hidden by the snow. Susan did not dare look up, did not dare even breath, until there was nothing left but silence.

-Megan

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Short Saturday: You Were Warned

You Were Warned

There was no way around it, Arthur admitted to himself. He was going to need a much bigger trash bag to deal with this.

It had been a spur of the moment decision, and act of passion and madness. Now, standing among all the carnage, surrounded by the destruction caused by his own hand and his hammer, there was no denying that he must have been insane to think he would ever be able to get away with it. Carefully, he peels his soaked work gloves from his hands, the material sticking and refusing to let go, Carefully he turned one glove inside out before using it to remove the second, hoping to avoid getting anything on his hands. With a sigh, he left his uncomfortable face mask in place, and did his best to look past the obscure and unnamable matter that speckled his protective goggles. He did not want to risk removing them at this point, as it would likely mean he would need to get more, and he had none left on hand. With his luck, he would drop them onto the floor and they would be unsalvageable for continued use. On top of it all, he knew that it would be stupid to create a reason to leave the room he was in, even for the most innocent reason. If he made an excuse where it caused him to have to leave the house, he knew, deep down in his gut, that it would only complicate matters. If he created a reason to leave the house, he knew he would leave a mess which would indicate to anyone what he had done, or that he would simply leave it all behind and never come back.

He knew that if he left everything as it was, if he didn’t clean up meticulously, he would be caught, and would have to face the full punishment for his actions. The kind of punishment that he was almost certain would completely alter his life, more so than he had altered it when he had taken the hammer in his hands in that moment of absolute certainty.

As calmly as he could, Arthur grabbed the still open bottle of water from the counter, and took a long sip. Even though it was warm, it proved to be refreshing after his exertion. It also gave him the chance to really look around and take in everything that he had done, and all the complications it had created.

He should have listened to his friends told him that remodeling a bathroom was a job best left to those who knew what they were doing, and not a good project to undertake while your wife was away for the weekend. Definitely not a project to start on a Sunday.

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Saturday Shorts: The Doctor Is In

The Doctor Is In

With surgical precision, she peeled the skin back from the muscle. With practices and slow motions, she positioned the flaps of skin down on the mounting blocks, and pinned it in place, the latex of her gloves offering a sure grip, despite the blood which covered the fingers.

Now that the skin was taken care of, moved and held away from the forearm, she could begin her work. It had been hard going, but this was not her first try. It had helped immensely that the chosen patient was in optimal condition, with no other health complications or previous work to put her into more difficult territory.

Now, her gloves were slick with blood, having taken the time to carefully deal with the subject, she knew it could not have been avoided, only made minimal so as not to become a larger concern. The inside of the gloves were even more uncomfortable, coated now with sweat that caused the material to lose a bit of its purchase. She would have rather not had to use the clingy latex gloves, but they were a necessary precaution, and the only thing that had been in stock. That shortage was something she was going to have to see about in the future.

Setting her scalpel down, she picked up her small scissors and got down to the truly challenging work. With the forearm muscles exposed, Flexor Carpi Radialis and  Brachioradialis she reminded herself,  and in such fine condition, it made it very easy to determine where the tendons lay. There was o excess fat to get in the way. Very carefully, with great concentration to keep her hands from shaking even the most imperceptible micron, she snipped the tendons cleaning, watching the tension leave it like a snapped bowstring. Setting aside the scissors, and wiping her bloody hands on her scrub pants, she smile. Carefully, as if touching china, she reached in and took hold of the  tendons, using both hands to take two between her fingers on each hand.

With a triumphant exhalation, she manipulated the tendon as if she was dealing with a human puppet, carefully pulling back on and releasing the tension slowly in order to watch the fingers on the hand open and close. The fingers responded, less smoothly at first, but soon fluidly as she learned the correct amount of force to use, Eventually the fingers waved back in a macabre semblance jazz fingers.

“See,” the girl grinned broadly, glancing up the table at the man, gagged and restrained firmly to the table, eyes wide in fear and pain not fully dulled by the sleeping pill she had slipped him earlier in the evening when she had suggested their next activity, ” I told you it would be fun if we played doctor.”

-Megan

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Saturday Short: Just Like Granny Annie

Granny Annie’s apple pies!

Nothing like a heaping helping of delicious apple pie to chase away a busy day.

Try Granny Annie’s and you’ll be surprised at how the worries just melt away.

You haven’t had a pie until you’ve tried Granny Annie’s Granny Apple Pie!

The radio switched back to the afternoon’s smooth jazz, its sounds filling the small kitchen as Alice worked. Alice had always prided herself on her pie making ability, and her crusts were simply the flakiest in the neighbourhood. She  made apple pies that made judges cry, and she had the county and state faire ribbons to prove it. She had even been in the Great Northwest Exposition Finals, beaten only by the creations of Granny Annie herself. That was nothing to bat an eye at, since Granny Annie had been winning first place ribbons for her pie since before Alice had even been born.

Of course, now that Granny Annie had gone to meet the Almighty Pie Man in the sky, Alice saw nothing between her and complete victory in the upcoming Country and State Fair competition. She would even be so bold as to go beyond and say that there was no one left in the whole Midwest region who could come close to her skill with a crust. of course, she would only ever think that in the privacy of her own home kitchen; best to be humble and gracious in the public eye, don’t you know.

Alice had been practicing all winter, adding new twists to her crust, and tweaking the flavours just so. She had redoubled her efforts since the news had announced the passing of Annie, knowing that there would be housewives and gastronomy aficionados coming out of the woodwork to try to snatch up the accolades and sponsorships that had once belonged to the old women. A gap had been created at the very to of the massive pyramid of pie backers, and there would be stiff competition ahead. But Alice had something that none of the others had, something that she had ventured far afield to get, and secret back to her home.

Now, Alice had that ace of her proverbial dress sleeve, and a sprinkle of new magic on her apron. Delicately, she cut herself a piece from the pie she had just removed from the oven, letting the savoury scent cascade through the small room, curling her toes at the warmth of it. She hoped that it would taste as good as it smelled, this was her first savoury pie, and she could not afford to have it not be delicious down to the last bite. Alice smiled as she carefully pressed her fork through the golden crust, the gravy leaking out across the plate. With measured steps, she brought the fork up, being sure that no drops fell on her apron. Raising it in salute to the other side of her kitchen counter, she took a bite, closing her eyes to enjoy as the flavour slipped over her palate. She found it delicate, the texture not that much unlike chopped roast beef, but the flavour more mellow, like a slow roasted pork loin. She ate the bite and exhaled slowly before smiling, all in all, it could use more spice, but it was edible, and that was what Alice needed most

” Oh, Granny Annie, for all your prizes, your pies lack a little in the kick department. Still, you certainly make a very nice pie.”

Alice smiled again and winked at the skull set at the other end of the counter, over seeing the oven. It provided no comeback, no quip. Granny Annie had always been humble and very soft spoken.

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Protocol

Protocol

Three blinked at the reflection in the mirror, focusing on the grey eyes staring back from the other side. Nothing was different, nothing was out of place. When Three has woken up that morning, to get ready for school as usual, it had been with a strange feeling that something had shifted, but no matter how Three looked at it, everything seemed just the same as it had the day before, the week before, the month before, and the year before. Nothing has changed.

Turning off the light, Three went to the kitchen, once again, the same routine as every other morning. There was a protein shake sitting on the counter, next to a lunch bag and a copy of the daily paper. As always, the front page flashed in warning; bold, red letters warned the readers of the graphic content, alerting them that what lay beyond the front page was not suited for most. The articles would likely offend many, or turn the stomach. Instead, the front page suggested that all the reader really needed to know was that the weather was going to be pleasant, and that the two district teams that had met in their races the previous night had tied, and decided to be friends and compete again the next night. With that, it brought the collective all-time records for both teams to 0 Wins- 0 Losses- 2,950 Ties, a respectable performance history for both teams.

Three disregarded the paper, as always, and made to grab the protein shake. Three’s hand hesitated a moment, and instead of grabbing the drink, took the lunch bag instead. Three was not really feeling exceptionally hungry, so it would not do to waste valuable time on the drink. Ready for the day, Three approached the front door. As the door opened, an option warning popped up: “YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN BREAKFAST. PLEASE RETURN.” The warning, while optical, blocked Three’s entire field of vision, and the entire doorway. Three hit the exit button, but the warning merely re-appeared, effectively keeping Three from leaving the house to begin the journey to school. With a sigh, Three returned to the counter and picked up the shake, and the warning window disappeared. With the way no longer blocked, Three could leave without further issue, though the time for travel had been cut considerable closer than was comfortable.

Leaving the house, Three walked for at least a dozen yards before stopping, setting the still full protein shake down on the barrier that separated the walking routes. These barriers kept students of Three’s age and younger separated from the adults walking to work, the transports carrying goods and supplied, and the older students on their way to the secondary school building.

Other students feel into line on the path to the school. All walking the same way at the same pace. They said good morning, exchanged their happiness over the outcome of the game the night before, and contemplated their lessons and exercises for the day, which would be both pleasant and informative. No one spoke about the news beyond the front page of the paper.

It was the exact same as the day before. The same as always, unchanged in pattern. Still, Three continued to experience that same nagging sense of weight and shift, as if something was fundamentally different from  what it had been before.

Once all the students were inside and seated at their desks, the bell rang. As it happened each morning, their daily exam popped up on their desktops. Each student was faced with a series of four questions. They were the same as always, there was no variation, no change.

  1. How are you feeling? Well (correct)
  2. Who won last night? Both teams (Correct)
  3. Who holds the highest office in the government? The Chancellor Supreme (correct)
  4. Did you eat your breakfast?

At the last question, Three paused. Three had never paused before. Here it was. This was the difference, the shift that had been brushing up against the back on Three’s consciousness since waking. It had been felt before it had even occurred; the effect before the action that would generate it. It was as if Three had made this decision before it had even been a decision to make.

With a quick eye dart, Three glanced around the room at the others; all of their screens flashed a pleasant green, indicated that they had finished their daily exam. Indicating that every answer was uniform, correct. Tentatively, with a fluttering of unknown emotions, Three purposefully wrote his answer.

4.         Did you eat your breakfast? No.

It took a moment, but Three’s screen winked closed, and a new window popped up. First it opened in front of Three, and then in a cascade of pings across the room to the others, all looking straight ahead. The new window advised the students that everything was fine. And additional subset window opened in front of Three’s eyes, containing a set of three very clear instructions: Three was to remain quiet; to remain seated with hands placed flat on the desk; and that Three was to await the arrival of a task force which was being dispatched to remedy the detected compliance violation.

It became obvious that Three was the only one to receive these instruction, as the rest of the students remained calmly seated, looking straight ahead as if nothing as out of the ordinary. Three drew a deep breath, as for the second time that day, a wave of emotions that had never previously been felt took hold. Three had somehow knows, right from waking, that the world was shifting. As it turned out, it was only Three’s world that was shifting, and Three had been the one to set into free fall. Looking from the other students to the window, Three’s feet shifted a fraction of an inch. It only took a breath for Three to make another decision that had never been made before, another change to the sameness and repetition of the routine. With a quick breath, Three made a break for the open door.

Change was within Three’s reach, the door felt as if it were just there, waiting. Suddenly, Three was sprawling forward, reached by sensations that had previously been unknown, to which Three could ascribe no known words or past experience. The sensations forced legs  and arms to contract and lock awkwardly, no longer responding to the brains impulses to move. They sensations caused Three’s teeth to clamps down hard, pinching cheek tightly between strong molars. A second later, and that uncomfortable sensation was paired with the explosion of stars, as Three’s head met the ground with a thud, ears ringing. With vision swimming in and out of focus, Three felt hands grab that collar of their shirt, hefting them up from the ground, holding them suspended.

As three’s hearing returned, head pounding, there was the sound of a voice, speaking in controlled, clipped tones. As the voice spoke, they began to move, Three in tow above the ground. “Unit Three is contained. We will bring them in for evaluation. All other units in this zone appear to be functioning as normal, all coding pinging green. We believe this is an isolated incident. Please be advised to re-initialize protocol in 90 seconds. Extraction complete. Alpha Team signing off.”

Not a single student in the classroom seemed to notice what was going o, focused on the screens in front of their eyes, as if the words “All is well” were enough to keep them from curiously investigating the ruckus taking place behind them.

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Writing Prompt Experiment

Good afternoon Netizens, bloggers, followers, and non-followers!

So, as I look at my inbox, I’ve come to realize that I am approaching 50 followers! Not much by some standards, but that is pretty big if you ask me, since I started this little endeavour without any real thought as to who would end up following it. So, as a sort of celebration I have decided to do a little something.

Here is what I ask of you: Whether you have followed my blog for a year, or just for a day, or not all at, I open up a prompting challenge. Simply prompt me in the comments with a word, a scenario, a picture, a bit of music, an emotion. ANYTHING! With what you give me I will then write something, a story or a poem, from 50-200 words, inspired by what you have given me and post it in reply to your prompting comment.

I will leave this prompting open for TWO WEEKS and a day, so it will close FRIDAY APRIL 4, 2014 and 11.59.59 PM. I will then take those prompts, and within 14 days respond to them. If I get more prompts then I can complete in those days, I will continue to write until I have filled all those which come in before that April 4th deadline. I may get none, or I may get a bunch, we’ll just have to see. This is also to get people engaged, thinking in their own creative way, about what inspires them.

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Unbound by Direction

Good morning! As far as Monday’s go, I’ve never been one to heap my hate of a particular day of the week. I will admit to grumbling about it, but it is not an exclusive hate directed at the day simply because it happens to fall at a certain point in the work/rest cycle. Instead, I am willing to hate all days of the week equally. If there is a trend for Tuesdays to be particularly irksome, or suddenly I find my Friday’s to be overly complicated, I will fluidly shift my Garfield emotions.

I offer up some very short experiments in creative writing; they have no real plot, and no real direction. They are written simply because I had the urge to write something, and they are what happened to fall. They may have a future, they may not. I have not thought to constrain them to a given set of circumstances, and I have not assigned the narrative voices a goal to fulfill. They just wanted to be heard.

1.

From her first breath she knew that something had changed; the air trickled down the back of her throat, carrying the burning cold that she could only equate with the fact that the sun had yet to rise. Her limbs felt stiff as she arched her back, digging in the soft, yielding ground beneath her. A shuddering tremor ran from her shoulders down the deep road of her spine, tension releasing from all the muscles along the furrowed path. Though the cold had come, the earth beneath had yet to be covered in the thick blanket that signaled the deep sleep, when stirring in the branches was limited to the drab brown sparrows.  It was the snap of twigs that caused her head to turn, her eyes to focus in the pre-dawn light, dim and shadowed. She focused with all she had in the direction of the sound; it grew steadily closer. The air seemed to crackle, to shift and fill with something new. She could not place it in her memory. Low to the ground she inched forward, placing each step  perfectly so as to leave the ground completely undisturbed. Where she passed it looked as if nothing living had walked, the earth did not give below her, the grass did not sway at her passing.

2.

The simplicity of it all was what first caught her attention, what drove her to continue observing, dismantling, and analyzing the whole thing piece by piece. The material felt like water in her hands, and yet the integrity of it was closer to the gossamer of a butterfly’s wing. The gown was something out of fantasy, a thing of beauty that every woman envied when they saw it on the body of another; a thing that drew the eyes of single and married men alike, with hushed whispers of desires and thoughts that had little place in casual conversation. Her hand traced over the barely apparent seams, along the cinched waist and the flowing neckline. What she wouldn’t give to be able to wear the dress for one night, to be the envy of every woman, the focus of every man, and the topic of every sentence. Unfortunately, much as it would have pleased her to do such a thing, there were no gallant soirée’s for her to attend, there were even fewer chances of her acquiring such a marvelous piece of clothing for her very own. Instead of working, as many women her age did, she spent her time training her body and her mind, and truly had little time for idle fantasies of being swept away by some gorgeous creature. The only men she was on speaking terms with were her trainers, her guardians, and her teammates, and she knew that none of them even glimpsed such a facet in her persona that would tempt them to be interested in her in any other way then what they already where as friends and allies. Sighing softly she let the material fall from her hand and left the display, pulling her jackets more closely around her lithe body to guard from the winter wind as she stepped out into the evening lit streets, slipping into the crowds heading home from work to their families.

3.

The scent of sandalwood drifted up to her through the haze of her sleep, pleasantly assaulting her senses and reminded her exactly where she was. With an languished stretch she felt the warm that rested at the middle of her back, reassuring pressure that reminded her she was not alone among the sea of sheets. She feels the warm hand on the small of her back curl around her side, slipping to her hip and gentle pulling her back into the warmth of the sweet-smelling sheets, until she rested firmly against his chest, his skin adding to the already comfortable warmth she was feeling. His other arms pillows her head as she closes her eyes, taking another deep, soothing breath of the smell that is completely him, that reminds her of everything about him. He chuckles softly, his breath ruffling her unbound hair, ghosting across her ear as he squeezes her gentle, assuring her that he does not plan on going anywhere.

She nestles herself back against him, letting her eyes drift closed as she basks in his warmth. It is not often that they can be together like this, alone, quiet, comfortable, and without the intrusion that usually plagued them whenever they attempted to garner a moment alone together. Every single moment they shared was special, a hope held for the future when the world around them, their families and friends, would be able to settle down again and breath, without jumping at shadows and jumping from country to country.

The hand at her hip crept slowly up her taut stomach, brushing over her navel, and coming to rest below the intercostal rib, feeling her lungs expand as she took each breath. His hand could easily span her waist, a mass of tightly knit muscle that so very rarely relaxed. But it was different with him. When they were together she dropped all her guard, all her safeties; she knew that when he was nearby she didn’t have to be afraid of what was coming from behind, because he was watching her back, insuring that nothing happened to his little bird, and she watched his likewise. For now nothing mattered beyond their shared warmth, the soft sheets, and the scent of sandalwood which settled over it all.

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Arriving in the middle

This next bit comes from an urban-fantasy idea. I know, I know. Urban-fantasy is the nouveau pulp, made popular by a few skilled authors (I nod to Butcher, Briggs, and Hearne here), and butchered by the hands of dozens who want to jump on the band-wagon (more times than I care to count have I picked up an interesting book, only to want to kill myself by the third chapter due to the lack of skill spilled over the pages). There is little context prior to this scene, save that there is a mounting tension; the current local pack alpha (yes, werewolves. I know, right?) is a bit lax about territorial boundaries, and our heroine (at this point, really not quite a heroine, more of an adopted run-away) is about to have a very uncomfortable re-connection with her past, which will throw the current heretical structure into a horrible battle for dominance. Ineffectual leaders who do not take the security of their territory as paramountly important will find that overlooked beta members are not as heel-licking as they seem. I know exactly where this one is going in my head, it is mapped out down to the conclusion, even as far as an epilogue.

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Veil of Shadows (A work in progress)

I have been researching and writing academically rather exclusively, yet I felt that it would set a bad precedent for dedication to my blog if I did not create a post of some substance. What I present in the following short paragraphs is a work-in-progress, something that I wrote on an urge and the beginnings of an idea. As such, it is not fully realized yet, and the idea and plot are still in their infancy. If a story could have an explanatory preamble to shape it, this would be it. I encourage feedback, as this is a little bit different then my previous posts, as it is not a fully thought story nor an analytical reflection or insight. Likely, until I am finished the current research paper I am writing, I will post snippets of my writing in progress or poetry. In addition,

 Veil of Shadows

There are things in the dark. It is generally laughed at past childhood, but it is still true. In the corners filled with shadows everything exists simultaneously; from the smallest sigh to the largest nightmare, here they can be found. Even those things which we are no longer afraid of. I was eight when I stopped believing in the things that go bump in the night. I was fifteen when I went to New Orleans and left my mark on the Tomb of the Bayou Queen, as a joke. When I was twenty-one I started to believe in those moving shadows once more. Those shadows have more physical presence than any other being in reality.

The first time I began to question the existence of ghosts and the supernatural was after I had turned nineteen; this was also the time that my father died of lymphoma. Sitting there, in the hospital room next to the shell of a man who I hardly recognized, I began to see the shadows of the world again. Maybe it was punishment for so foolishly calling on the Bayou Queen; after all, what woman, even one long dead, would want to inflict such suffering on a child? That night, as my fathers breathing grew shallow, and the pall of death overshadowed the room, I saw them.

At first I was convinced that they were just hallucinations, brought on by the stress and grief I was experiencing for the first time in my life; but as the hours passed, they grew more solid. My mother didn’t notice them, climbing over his body, their long fingers running over his smooth scalp, pulling at the paper-thin skin covering nothing more than bone. I could only sit and watch as they shifted from wisps of shadow to full formed beings, sitting on his chest and making it more difficult for him to breathe. They paid the rest of us no attention, probably because we were not the reason for their foray into the physical realm. The more solid they grew the more my father’s vitals faded, until he was nothing but a lifeless shadow and they were finished with their task.

From that point on, I saw the world differently. The Bayou Queen has rewarded my foolish wish, giving me the ability to see those things that would rather keep themselves hidden. I could see perfectly, without need of the glasses I had detested as a child, but sometimes I saw far too much. In every shadow there were hands, in each secretive face a sinister shifting of skin. I could see everyone for who they truly were.

After my father’s funeral I moved away from home; my mother was inconsolable, and I couldn’t take it on top of learning to deal with this new, unwanted facet of my life. So I packed my bags and transferred out-of-state, out of country even. But even then, the shadows followed me. They sought me out, in acknowledging my own ability to see them, they began to see me in turn. Sometimes I was only there to be an ear to the voices in the night, to hear what held them to the coils of the human realm, what they had desired, or how they had come to be. Other times, well those could get to be much less pleasant than hearing about the fires of creation and the monsters that one only thinks of as being part of children’s fantasy.

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Little Revenge for the Devil: Review of Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns by Lauren Weisberger

Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns

2013 Lauren Weisberger

2013 Lauren Weisberger

Authour: Lauren Weisberger

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Release Date: June 4th 2013

Pages: 381

Rating: 3 out of 5

Review

As a fantasy, horror and murder mystery fan, I will admit that Lauren Weisberger’s The Devil Wears Prada was a guilty indulgence for me when I first picked it up years ago. At the time there was something I dearly loved about the ruthless and cold Miranda Priestly that I simply could not put into words; she was a woman who you loved to hate, and yet I respected her, not for her manners or sense, but because she was unapologetic in her self-interest. When I saw Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns sitting on the new release shelf at my local book retailer, I didn’t even have to think twice about the financial setback that a hardcover book would present to me (Word to the wise, if you shop Indigo or Amazon and want to check this out after my review, it’s on a nice sale right now until midnight Sunday). I purchased it and happily picked up my hazelnut macchiato with soy before settling in to begin my read.

So, admitting that I loved reading The Devil Wears Prada a few years ago, and that I even enjoyed the film (Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway made an excellent on-screen pair, and despite the changes to make Miranda seem more sympathetic to the audience I still found myself enjoying it as an indulgence), I found that Revenge Wears Prada left me feeling a bit let down. It has remnants of the amazing flare that Weisberger used in The Devil Wears Prada, but did not quite return to the power of the original, it was skeletal at best, and familiar names did not carry the same verge and sparkle as they did before, and new characters did not carry the loving, or hating, flare that Weisberger gave us previously. For a book with the word “Revenge” so prominently in the title there is very little actual revenge which takes place, and even our love-to-hate Miranda as the Devil is only smattered briefly in a few chapters, more of a peripheral character then an actual source of antagonistic grief that one would hope for when picking up a sequel. I felt that the story was a pale attempt to return to something that was marvellous, and simply could not recreate the same feelings or connections that the first book did.

We catch up with Andrea Sachs, Andy, 10 years after her infamous blow-up with Runway Magazine and her storming departure from Paris Fashion Week, and amazingly powerful “Fuck you” to the sociopathic tyrant that is Miranda Priestly. Things has been both good and bad for our protagonist; while she suffered some set backs out of the gate, including some rather spectacular job related PTSD, she has found a man she loves, Max Harrison, mended the fence with her old Runway nemesis, Emily, and made a wonderfully successful business venture into the realm of bridal coverage.  Despite the title of the book, the plot is rather predictable, and events can be seen pages in advance if the reader is paying attention. In addition, there is very little “devil” featured from chapter to chapter, and even then it vacillates to such an extent that Miranda Priestly’s cold-hearted and egotistical self-interest driven life almost seems to be suffering from a personality disorder, or perhaps a rather selective and well-coordinated type of Manic Depression; one interaction our devil seems completely human, and the next second she is a cold bitch who could freeze hell over with so much as a well placed dismissal.  I will say it again, for a book with the word Revenge featured so prominently, there is very little, if any, sense of vengeance throughout the novel.

It follows a highly predictable plot arc, has its moments of cleverness, but ultimately falls short of my expectations. As much as I enjoyed The Devil Wears Prada, I only felt middling attachment as I continued to read Revenge Wears Prada (Fashion actually features almost not at all in the entire book, and our visits with it are hardly as magnificent as they were in the previous encounter.) While it’s excellent for well liked, and hated, character to return to us in familiar forms, they seems hollow and little changed over the 10 years that Weisberger has given them to mature and change. Inevitably, I think perhaps a better title may have been “Predictable Betrayal Wears Prada.” If you are looking for an easy read to occupy some time, I wouldn’t turn you completely away from picking up Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns, but I would warn you to not expect the same level of emotional attachment or engagement as you experienced with The Devil Wears Prada. At only 381 pages, (or 8 hours to read if one has little else to do but procrastinate from writing an important thesis), it is not a huge investment for time, and it does have its moments of satisfaction, albeit that you will neither loathe nor adore anyone on any level of deep connection. I personally plan to revisit my copy of The Devil Wears Prada to see if my first experience of guilty pleasure with Miranda Priestly still holds true, despite the fact that Revenge provides so little of that juicy haute couture, cutting edge, ruthless business of fashion and editorial assistantships which had us all falling in love with New York, and in hatred with the Devil.

Unlike my first meeting with Miranda Priestly, this novel did not make me immediately regard my own way of dealing with success and people, nor did it make me regret the contents of my own closet in a jealous fit.

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns by Lauren Weisberger

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