Writing Photo Prompt and Contest – May 2015
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He had always detested the lengthy paperwork, the never-ending notes. But it won’t be me this time, he thought as he grimaced in pain.
Flying. That was how he would describe it. She had a laid a perfect trap, sweeping up the stairs, just visible before him, the flashes of her scarlet coat he glimpsed through the stairwell leading him up, up to his demise.
He could have sworn he saw her fall, the last flap of fabric disappearing from view over the edge as he emerged from the darkness of the stairwell. But as he peered over the ledge, he realized at once that it was only a piece of cloth wedged in the crumbling mortar and flapping in the breeze. He hadn’t even had time to turn around. The last thing he had felt was the hard thump against his back.
He couldn’t help but smile. She had been clever.
I failed, he thought. It was the only regret. There was nothing more to do now but wait. The light above him became brighter as his breathing grew shorter.
He blinked, the salty sweat stinging his eyes. She was there, above him, standing at the roof’s edge. A red blot against a perfect sky, admiring her handiwork no doubt.
She stayed there, staring down at him. He saw her clearly in the scope. And then she flew like a redbird through the sky, landing beside him. His last breath barely stirred the humid air.
“This is your world now. Build it anew.” Said the voice. Kerrick opened his eyes and saw he was not where he had closed his eyes to rest. He looked up at the building with its crumbling oldness and it changed instantly. The vines were gone. He blinked again and the building had again changed. Confused, he closed his eyes and thought of emptiness and in an instant he was there. He thought of the place he had been before he woke up in the ever-changing. Though, how he felt it was called that he didn’t know. He kept his eyes open this time to watch the change. He thought of the original building crumbling, vacant, and covered in vines. It appeared with no change in the air just like the snap of a finger. Out of the building, toddled and old man with white shaggy hair and crumpled suit, “This belongs to you now. I cannot go on. You treat it with kindness and love and it shall be kind in return. there are rules. abide by them you will flourish. Dismiss them and you become me.” Handing him the small leather bound book, the man strode away leaving him to his thoughts. He stood unblinking as he read the first line.
Everything from Before is no longer. Make it it anew and harmonious or you will become he and he will end again.
He had jumped and not survived.
Spent, food consumed my thoughts. Even whatever it was didn’t bother me anymore. It could eat me for all I cared. Since I woke up after the crash, I made marks on my fingers with a pointed stick to track the days. They seemed about as long as ours. Hands in front of me, palms up, fingers splayed, I counted nine marks. More than a week with no food. Just that crock of rainwater. The broken leg screamed.
I heard it scuttle in. It’s beak poked around the corner. Dark unblinking eyes stared at me. “Finished me off, will ya,” I mumbled. It moved closer and tapped its beak on the stone floor by my feet, twice. Then it shuffled closer to the window and the balcony and the light, where it tapped twice again. I crawled over to it. Maybe I could throw myself over the railing, end it all.
It stretched its beak up toward the balcony’s edge, almost answering my thought with encouragement, but instead grabbed the green stringy growth that had appeared overnight. It tugged hard on the green stuff and ripped off a chunk. Then it scuttled back toward me. Like a retriever dropping a saliva-soaked tennis ball at the master’s feet, it dropped the kudzu like growth on my swollen ankles. Then it tapped its beak on the floor twice and left.
I ate the plant, crawled closer, ripped off more and ate more. It was either sustenance or self-execution. Either would be fine.
“It’s a fake.”
“No. It’s not,” I attempt to argue. Tabitha was expert on all things fake, fraudulent, fabricated, or fictitious. My area is synonyms, but I prefer the word “bailiwick.”
“You may recall making a similar claim about our waitress last Tuesday.” Her posture advertises authentic academic assurance.
“All I said was she appeared too youthful for mammary augmentation.”
“So she got them post criminalization. Defying the laws of man is easy. Defying the laws of physics? Impossible.”
She’s insufflating in preparation for a virtuoso recital. “Go ahead,” I surrender.
“Aristotle first theorized that Earth’s atmospheric content scatters the light of the sun, creating both the illusion of ‘daytime’ and also hiding other stars from the naked eye. However, viewed from the bottom of a well, or—in this case—the darkened courtyard of a skyscraper, the telescoping effects of your environment allow for a viewing of the night sky in its full glory.”
“Can we call it a mosaic of celestial bodies?”
“Sure. But I’m not done. Visible daytime aside, the hanging plants offer additional evidence, as no light reaches the interior. So how can they grow? Conclusion: it’s fake.”
“Sometimes it feels like the whole world is fake.”
“It is. They are. All but the two of us.” Her lips and arm curl around me.
“I want to see it. The caption suggests a journey not arduous. Two week’s walk. Max.”
Her aroma is a mosaic. Tabitha’s the only celestial body worth mentioning.
“An adventure? Let’s go.”
I begged her not to let him move in with us. She said I was too young to understand anything. There was something wrong with that man’s smile—it wasn’t real. His eyes held dark secrets. How could she not see that? He never cared about her. He just needed a place to stay, someone to cook for him, someone to do his laundry. These apartments aren’t cheap—he knew that. He promised to help mom with rent, but that never happened. He’s been with us for three months and hasn’t even looked for work. This is her fourth relationship since dad died. I’m young, but it doesn’t take a genius to know that someone’s a creep. Mom has a knack for falling in love with creeps. That’s probably why they call them creeps, because they somehow find a way to creep in. Several minutes ago, I caught him with the woman next door. He doesn’t know I recorded them. He just knows that I saw him cheating. If you look up and squint your eyes, you’ll see my mom’s boyfriend looking down at me. I’d point him out if I could, but I can’t feel my limbs: my toes, my fingers, nothing. I can’t even turn my neck. In fact, I can’t even blink my eyes. I’m not sure if I’m still alive. He thinks mom will never know what happened. I sent the video to her phone just before he pushed me. I saved her from man number four.
Every issue of Killer Nashville Magazine will have a Photo Prompt Contest. The rules:
1. Use the inspiration of visual content to draft a short story (250 word maximum).
2. Submit your short story by the end of the month.
3. Killer Nashville will post all submitted stories (in alphabetical order by author’s last name).
4. We will provide an online poll. Vote for the best story.
5. By submitting a story, the entrant attests the story is original and that Killer Nashville has the irrevocable non-exclusive right to use it in any media format with credit given to you.
6. The writer who collects the most votes by the end of the month will be our winner and their story will be published in the next month’s magazine. Good luck!