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Winter Contest (Prose) – In the Mirror

 
 
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  #1  
Old 11-20-2012, 01:48 PM
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Default Winter Contest (Prose) – In the Mirror


The them for the Winter Prose Contest is: "In the Mirror".

What it is in the mirror, or even if it is in is up to you. Good luck and enjoy.

Entries:

Members are allowed one entry in the Prose contest. (You are welcome to enter our poetry contest as well.) Prose entries should be submitted as posts to this thread. The competition is open to all members of Writer’s Beat, including staff.

Members are requested to refrain from commenting on entries in this posting thread. Please use the Winter Contest Comments thread instead. That thread will remain open throughout the posting period and afterwards, and members are encouraged to let entrants know what they thought of their entries.

Word Limits:

Prose: 2000 Words

Edits:

Once an entry has been submitted, it cannot be altered. Any work that is edited after it has been entered will be disqualified. If you feel you need to make a small alteration (a misplaced comma, a spelling error), contact a member of staff. If we feel your request is reasonable, we will make the correction on your behalf.

Close Date:

22nd December 2012, 12 midnight GMT

Judging:

Winners will be selected by means of a public vote, so you, the members of Writer’s Beat, will choose the winners.

After the closing date, a voting thread will be posted. Voting will commence on the 23rd of December and close on the 29th of December 2012, 12 midnight GMT.

* * *

Recognition:

The winning entries will be considered for publication in Writer's Beat Quarterly, subject to the approval of the editors. To increase your chances of getting published (whether you win or not), make sure your document is as error-free as possible!
Also, the member (or tying members) with the most votes will get to suggest the next contest theme!

* * *

If you have any questions about the contest, contact a staff member and we will happily answer them for you. Now sharpen your pencils, fill up your inkwells and get writing. Good Luck!

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  #2  
Old 11-30-2012, 10:26 AM
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The spider was spotted as she emerged from one of the many darkened pits within the fabric of the damp stone wall opposite. The single coat of whitewash was peeled and flaking. Cement from the jointsin the walls had ground to dust over decades, aided by both natural settlement inside and man made warfare outside. As the spider scurried across her web, Alice lost concentration and felt raw metal cut into her wrists again. They were sore and her arms ached deeply in all their joints as they hung limply above her. It was the restriction of movement more than the callous nature of the battered metal cuffs that Alice disliked. She had been here for thirty-seven days. Day ten had been her fourtieth birthday. A memorable milestone. The spider retreated into her hidey-hole and began her own tedious version of Alice's waiting game.
The now familiar sound of the door scraping across the wet floor at the top of the steps encouraged Alice to lower her head so as to not cast her gaze upon her captors. This, she thought, gave her a greater chance of survival. If she couldn't identify them by any other means than their voice, they may let her go eventually. The crass snort of her prison guard as he descended the steps said to Alice it was feeding time. Blissful joy. An hour of freedom, of no restraint; of movement.
Head bowed, she saw on the bent tin plate that her keeper slid toward her, her supper. Barely three spoonfuls of beans. Cold and hard. The jailer grunted as he bent down and placed a stained steel cup of water next to the plate. He jangled his keys and Alice dropped her arms. Pain shot from her shoulders through her chest, too long in one position. The jailer left her to her moment. She rose and swayed as she stepped the eight paces to the other wall; the spiders wall.
She turned and squinted up at the small cracked, filthy window that in normal positions sat some three feet above her head. Though she rarely had the chance to look through it, it was her window on the world. Through the cracks she heard the grating harshness of automatic gunfire. She heard local militia scream and swear in their native tongue. Worst of all she heard the long silences that conveyed her utter solitude.
She ate steadily but drank hastily. Her eyes had but barely adjusted to daylight when the gaol man returned. She sat back on the damp floor and waited for her arms to be yanked almost from their sockets. Returned to her captive position she watched his ragged trainers twist on the dirty floor and exit the room. The door closed with a hope crushing thud.
It was then that Alice heard something distinctive to her ears and yet alien to her circumstances, the mechanical hum of war machines. Something that meant invaders outside. She listened as the noise grew louder. She heard bustling footsteps. Different, heavier footsteps. The sound of boots, proper Army boots, not the flip-flops or tatty trainers of her captors. Gun fire spat into the air and shattered the peace that Alice felt. She winced. It was close and sounded more aggressive than she had heard before. Violent shouting erupted. She closed her eyes and prayed as a stray bullet pierced the last remaining intact pane of glass in her window and the fragments fell into her matted hair.
Silence.
She prayed quietly and opened her eyes. She raised her head best she could and noticed a small mirror fixed to a long reach pole poking through the window. It lurched about before settling. Alice squeezed her dry eyes together and peered up. In the mirror she saw a soldier's reflection. Then she saw his smile. They looked in the mirror at each other. "It's okay," he called, "I've found her."
  #3  
Old 12-02-2012, 08:09 PM
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The Tattered Muse


The artist felt her presence before he saw her. There was heat in her diamond-gloss eyes. They were wet with a fear that pulled her lips tight. Fear she tried to cover as she stopped and produced a small, metal compact from her bag. Her back was to him as she dusted lightly beneath her eyes. She was so close, he could see the purple shadows on her thin skin there in the mirror. In the lighted reflection, he could just glimpse the terror as she wiped a tiny bead of moisture away from her lashes.

She snapped the mirror shut with a definitive click, looking somewhat more collected. He put down the black marker he used for caricatures and took out a charcoal pencil. He put his knife to the tip. Wishful sharpening, just in case she found her way to him.

“Could you draw my portrait please?”

She stood only inches away, arms wrapped around herself, hugging her thin white dress. Her face immediately demanded his focus, those small gray pools of her eyes pleading for him. She craned her neck and scanned the crowd.

“Please?” She took a step forward, and the artist cleared his throat. He only nodded, indicating she sit in the folding chair. She reached in the pocket of her sweater. “Can we stretch this out?” She asked. “I need to stay out of site. I’ll pay for the extra time.”

“No problem,” he said. He was already planning to do just that.

The young woman held out a few twenties. His hand met hers, but only to push the money back. He felt her cool skin against his. “We can work that out after,” he said. She pulled away and sat, shoulders tensed as though she waited for some dark event to occur.

The artist began. Something was off right away. To the woman’s surprise, he got up and moved his things closer. It wasn’t often he had trouble concentrating, but he needed to see, up close, every crevice of her faded red lips. He had to know every facet of her eyebrows—to gauge the exact depth of her slightly sunken cheekbones.

He started his work and saw nothing but her. The carnival fell away, and all was dark around them. He closed his eyes to recreate her image in his mind. He opened them as he lined the woman’s perfect neck, her collarbone slanting into her dress, her pointed shoulder. He saw her chest rise and fall in his peripheral vision. Her skin glowed with a paleness that suggested little sunlight and too much stress. And there it was, plain as day at the base of her throat—her pulse point visibly jumping. Her heart was racing. His did as well.

Draw! Why was it so difficult to focus? He wanted to reach out and touch her nearly translucent skin. Nothing in the slightest to do with lust. He wanted to get that sensation he could never quite describe—to use his fingertips to translate her essence to paper. He knew just by looking how smooth her skin would feel.

The woman turned her head slightly, her eyes rolling among the crowd. There were kids at booths, couples on dates, a few circus clowns he knew personally. What was she hiding from?

“You have to stay still,” he told her. She snapped her head back, eyes guilty.
“It’s alright,” he laughed. The artist saw his excuse. He left his easel and closed the gap between them. Slowly, carefully, he cupped her warm face in his hands and gently tilted her head half an inch. In her eyes he found a force impossible to pull away from. He dared to brush her brown hair behind her shoulder, taking the time to notice its smooth texture, its thickness. She flinched, raking both hands through her hair and fixing it back in place. But it was too late. He saw it already—bruised fingerprints on her neck.

The artist took a step back, bewildered. He observed as she shrank in her seat—her embarrassment and shame apparent in her gorgeous features.

“What happened?” He knelt, clasped her hand. She didn’t flinch at that. Whatever she felt toward the artist, it was closer to trust than he could have hoped for. He searched the crowd and turned back to her. “Is he here?”

“What the hell’s going on? Who’s this pawing at you?” A man emerged—his words hoarse and bitter. He stumbled toward the woman, his eyes blazing with red rims and bloodshot veins. His large, dirty hand clamped possessively around her slender arm. The artist saw the man’s knuckles whiten as he squeezed her flesh. More fingerprints for another day.

The artist experienced something that almost never happened—a loss of clarity. Shades of red and black clouded his vision as he approached the drunken offender. He reached for the man’s arm and successfully removed it from the woman. She jumped up, watching with a look of sheer, unbridled panic.

Drunk as he was, the artist hadn't been prepared for the man’s sudden sharp reflexes. Apparently an athlete, or simply a well-practiced bar fighter, the drunkard swiftly shifted his weight from the woman and swung at the artist—the crack of fist to jaw rang strangely harmonic with her low-pitched cry. The artist crashed into his easel, sending papers and materials flying.
The woman fell to her knees to retrieve the exposed drawing. She and the curious onlookers that had gathered at the spectacle stared at it, unblinking. The artist lifted himself from the ground, watching as his blood trickled from the page. He raised his right hand and observed the gash his knife had made when he connected with the easel.

There was no pain, as there should have been. His jaw didn’t pound, the slice in his hand didn’t sting. All he felt was a deep yearning as watched her study her portrait. Could she see it? The scrupulous attention to every detail of her saddened posture? The shadows blackening her eyes? Every fear and hope he’d captured in the lines of her brow?

He watched understanding contort her face. It was as if she saw herself, her true self; an image as reflective and accurate as the compact in her purse. She shuddered. The artist imagined she was looking into a premonition—her face captured in charcoal, wide-eyed and unblinking, soaked in blood.

The drunken abuser, the anti-knight—he snatched up the drawing, kissed it to a lighter that had suddenly appeared in his hands. An orange glow crawled along the edge of the paper as it floated to the grass. The artist didn’t flinch. He didn’t stop looking at the woman as she was hurried away, tears shimmering in her diamond eyes.

The drawing, the wooden booth where he worked— the artist could easily envision it all in flames. Everything could turn to black smoke and ash and death-hot amber—and still he would see only her and the admiration in her stunned face, the appreciation for the beauty of his work and the grief of its scorched loss.

He swore, spit blood out of his mouth and grasped the drawing. He slapped it at the ground, suffocating the flames surrounding her blood-steeped image, saving what he could of her.

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Old 12-04-2012, 08:39 AM
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Default In The Mirror

The wide mirror shows a face that stares back at me. I see the face… not quite mine but almost so. I see the scars, even though my skin is smooth, a soft delicate cover, heightening my high cheekbones, ivory against the blue of my eyes. Would he think me beautiful?

Memories of Paul invade me. I feel his body, inhale the fragrance of freshly washed hair, the spicy scent of his cologne and I am both happy and sad. Three years since the accident and time moves on. I no longer fight the unseen wounds within me. I’m free at last, feel no pain as I stand, arms bare, the warm sun kissing the old grey carpet room is my reality, the bare walls the old leather sofa and Will he see beyond the mask; he who belongs to time past?

I remember the darkness - darkness that brought peace. With the light, there was pain. I refused to meet the light; ignored the voices floating about me. Soft hands raided my body; the heat of hands burned my face before I tunnelled once more into oblivion. His voice nestled against my ear, a familiar sound that warmed me. When I opened my eyes against the thickness that bound them, the light brought tears. But he was there, always there on the stool beside my bed.

Sunlight filtered through the voile drapes; I felt its warmth. I nodded as he spoke, the bandages tight against my face and felt afraid. They took away the bandages - what did he see?

His eyes avoided my face. Later, words staggered from my trembling lips. Words that brought an ending to what might have been, brought an ending to our plans for the future, an ending to my life, until they build back the face I’ve lost. He protested; I turned away. His footsteps lingered long after he’d gone; his cologne filled the empty room.

I shrug myself awake from reverie. A chill reaches out and I shiver. Like the glass, I may break, splinter into a thousand fragments, as fragile as the new face I wear today.
  #5  
Old 12-14-2012, 04:28 AM
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Default The Eyes of A Stranger.

Sat on her chair Sonia gazed straight ahead of her. Unblinking and unaware of her surroundings. Numbed by what had happened and still went on around her. Yet it didn’t touch her, it didn’t happen to her. She sat in the eye of the storm while it raged around her. Words not more than angry growls, blows unfelt. All she cared for was who stared her in the face.

“Come,” the stranger said with a voice clear as chrystal. Extending her hand towards Sonia the woman beckoned her to lean closer. “It is time.”

Sonia knew if she touched this stranger there would be no turning back. In her minds eye her hand reached towards the woman’s. The moment their fingers touched a cold spread from her hand through her arm into her body until no warmth remained in her. A bone deep cold settled in her very soul. Rising from her chair she leant forwards until her forehead touched the stranger’s. She moved past the boundaries of the stranger’s flesh into her until she looked with the eyes of the stranger and saw herself sitting on her chair behind her vanity. It lasted only a moment. Then her body crumpled to the floor and her husband dropped to his knees besides her. Rage forgotten, anger dissolved. But it was too late. She had made her choice.

In the mirror he would not be able to ever touch her again, for that she had gladly left all she knew behind.
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  #6  
Old 12-15-2012, 11:10 AM
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IN THE MIRROR

I have not been introspective for many years. Self-examination is a flaw in my line of work. I only contemplate my physical and mental self to the degree needed to assure that I am a cipher. I want all survivors to tell the authorities, ‘It was a normal-looking, medium tall, medium weight male.’

Before a job I always check myself to make sure I have the image right. In my ‘office’ I have a sealed room, concealed by a large bookcase that moves aside. Behind the case is a large area with racks of clothes, a makeup desk, and the mirror. The mirror is one of those three panel rigs they have in department stores, the ones that show you from all views except directly behind.

The racks of clothing are as varied as can be: everything from tuxedos to overalls, sneakers to cowboy boots, slacker to formal wear. It allows me to fit into any environment. Preparing for one of my jobs is like dressing for any other work. You have to make sure the uniform and appearance match the surroundings. Sort of like camouflage, hidden in plain sight.

This particular job is to take place on a subway platform, so the other people in the field will be a range of types from aging hippies to businessmen to youngsters. Because of the time of day, the majority of them will be businessmen on lunch break. That is what I have chosen for my uniform today.

The mirror shows a man of medium height, 5’ 9”, average weight, 160 pounds – although I may have to take on some weight if the obesity epidemic continues – hair-colored hair of medium length in a conservative cut, brown eyes, no facial hair, thin unremarkable face. I had gotten too much sun on a recent stay in the Caribbean so I used makeup to gray my appearance a little. It would not do to have someone say, ‘ . . .and he had a marvelous tan’. January in Boston and tan skin do not mix.

I am wearing a medium-weight gray wool suit, pants and coat, with a white spread collar shirt and dark blue tie. The shoes are black loafers, not too polished. They are not the perfect shoes – wingtips would be better – but I need to wear these same shoes with my backup outfit, and wingtips with jeans are quite funny looking.
No hat, no pocket square, no jewelry. The uniform is perfect. Even I could not describe myself in a way that would identify me.

Even better, the visible outfit is the second layer. I have underneath the pants and shirt lightweight blue jeans and a T-shirt. A frameless backpack is collapsed and wrapped around my waist. As soon as I leave the scene, I will go into a rest room at the station and remove the suit and shirt, stuffing them and my weapon in the backpack, ruffle my hair so it stands all awry, and casually stroll out to mingle with the crowds and exit the station.

If I had my way, this would not be the way the job was done. I much prefer darkness and stealth, with the death being seen as the result of an accident. But I am just a contractor, and the principal decides how the job is done. In this case, a flashy, visible demise was mandated.

I check the mirror one last time to make sure the lightweight shoulder rig that holds the silenced .22 pistol does not show, or ‘print’ as the gun carriers say. It is undetectable.

I always allow myself extra time for unforeseen circumstances. Telling my client that I was unable to do the job because I was caught in traffic is not acceptable.

I rotate in front of the mirror one last time, for a final review. I am the gray man, the ghost. Being unseen and invisible serves me well in my work. My only problem is that I can hardly get waited on at a bar or restaurant. I disappear into the background. In any case, I see no one in the mirror now. Perfect.

THE END
  #7  
Old 12-19-2012, 07:08 AM
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Elyzabeth

In the Mirror


Something strange this way comes…
Night one:
I’m a normal person mind you, a spinster, I live in the town of Hicksville, lived here all of my life, it’s a small house, plain and quiet, just like I am... My parents passed away some years ago, so now there’s just me. I have a black and white cat named Judycat, she is my companion, but she is getting older and is due to pass on pretty soon, but for now, she is very comforting, she curls up in my arms and purrs if I think about her passing, I will cry, she is everything to me.
Physically, I’m pretty average, brown hair, getting grey, brown eyes, medium build, and of course spectacles, if” Central Casting” wanted a librarian, they would call me.
So, last night I’m getting undressed, and I glance into my full length mirror on the back of my closet door, and I see something move in the mirror out of the corner of my eye. Something bright red almost a neon red, I turn to look back around the room to see if there is something there I didn’t know about, but there was nothing, just small bed, with a yellow flower bedspread on it, my desk, and Judycat, I looked back in the mirror, another flash of red, it was something moving...Opening my closet door to look behind the mirror, I see that is nothing there, I close the closet door and look carefully into the mirror and there is :.A clown : with a white face, and smiling red mouth painted going up, with a big tear painted going down. He was wearing a red fright wig, and had a large red nose, striped suit and tiny little bowler hat, and he was standing there in front of me in the mirror. I think that my jaw really did drop Judycat strolled over to the mirror to see what this strange looking thing was; she looked carefully at it, hissed, and ran out of the room. The Clown disappeared. I was stunned, kept looking in back of the mirror, into the closet, everywhere.
That night I dreamed of clowns and hissing cats, all night long…more like nightmares, actually.
When I got up the next morning, I went to the mirror to look in, nothing, back of the closet, nothing, .Judycat was nowhere in sight
I washed my face, put on a brown short sleeve dress, white socks and moccasin shoes. Standing in front of the mirror, I look a lot like an aged Brownie scout. Next, my hair fastened back into a ponytail with a red rubber band, and I’m ready to go
Reasoning, by this point, that it had all been a delusion or hallucination or something, I went off to my work at the library and tried to put the whole weird thing out of my mind


***

Gracie is at the information desk, as usual, we exchange the same morning greetings we have ever since I started working here twenty-five years ago.
I walked to the back of the library, and entered the door to my office:
Dusty Smith, Chief Librarian.
As I’m having my coffee and looking at the headlines of the newspapers on my desk, “Super storm Wreaks Havoc on East Coast,” Turmoil in Middleast,” “ Terrorism Plot Uncovered”
Gracie, or “Grey Gracie,” as I think of her, knocks on my door.
“Just wanted to remind you that, that, Mrs Jenkins will be here at 10:00 with her noisy bunch of kids running all over the place”
“Thank- God, I have a room I can run into, sorry for you though Gracie”
“Well that’s part of the job, I’m feeling a bit down today though, Jim’ s still under the weather about having to stay in bed and all”
“That must be hard on you Grace”
“It is, Miss Smith, I feel like I’m going to explode, he’s so nasty to me, it’s like he blames me or something”
I hand her a tissue from the box on my table; I can see she’s going to cry any minute now.
She says “Thanks, “as she returns to the main the library.
I study the small articles the newspapers to see if there are any stories about Clowns or mirrors, but of course there isn’t, can’t get last night’s images out of my mind.
I start working on the huge pile of paperwork in my IN box, so boring, twenty –five years’ worth of so boring… endlessly boring hours of it.
I hear children screaming in the library, I quickly walk out to see what’s happening,
“You boys stop this right now” the hapless Mrs Jenkins was saying over the screams, “or I’m going to tell your mother”
I walk over to the two boys and they know my reputation as a” no honeymoon person,” I say one word, louder than any Liberian should:
STOP! “ They both stop immediately
“You both go to sit in a corner, you, the left corner, over there, if either of you ever make any noise in my library again, your parents will be called in immediately!”
I start back to my office and the hapless Mrs Jenkins walks beside me,
“I’m so sorry “she says “I just don’t know what to do with them”
I have a few thoughts, which I keep in my head.
“You know several fathers have lost their jobs at the factory, that doesn’t excuse this behaviour, but it is really difficult times for some of the families now, even my husband Sol might be losing his job and he’s an accountant, white collar, I’m so worried…”
As she walked into my office with me, I went to the tissue box and give her, one for the tears that will start to fall any minute now.
I reassure her and say everything will work out and sit back down at my desk and look out the window.
It was bleak, dark, starting to snow, the bright face of the Clown with the neon red hair came into my mind, I didn’t feel so afraid, it seemed funny now, and somewhat exciting
The day was long and so boring, paperwork, complaints, phone calls, paperwork complaints, phone calls. Finally, it was time to go, looking out the window I could see that the snow was pretty deep, so boots on, umbrella grabbed, I couldn’t wait to get home. I was excited I hoped I would see the clown again. I hoped so much that my mind started to repeat a kind of children’s mantra:
Run, run, don’t fall down, where ‘s the clown?, where ‘s the Clown?
I felt like skipping rope!
Suddenly I felt a sharp pain in my back, I had been hit with an icy snowball, by one of the boys that I had put into the corner, he was running away, he turned just long enough to yell:
“Fuckin’ Bitch!”
Nothing I could do about it, I was walking quickly. Running now I opened the door, threw off my boots and coat as Judy cat leaped into my arms and began licking my face.
Night two
I entered my bedroom and, still holding Judycat we went to stand in front of the mirror. As I looked into it, the clown’s face started to slowly appear, and then the entire body came into focus on the mirror.
I looked into his eyes, they didn’t look at me, but into the distance, they were kind eyes, and the painted smile covered lips which looked gentle.
I spoke to him
“Can you speak?”
His eyes slowly moved in my direction, as though he was just waking up
“ Hi,“ he said
“Hi I replied, why are you here?”
“ Don’t know, they gave me this address”
“ Who are “They” ?
“I don’t know that either”
“What’s your name?”
“ Salvation, you can call me Sal , for short ”
“ What does that mean, Salvation, for what?”
“Don’t know, they don’t tell me very much, I gotta go, I’ll see you tomorrow night”
“ Tomorrow night ?”
“Yes, this is an Express Assignment”
He blew some bubbles at me, and was gone.
Judycat was still in my arms, purring.
I just stood there looking, at the mirror.

***


Again, I can’t sleep, dreaming of salvation and being in a hamster cage, trying to get up to the top of the mountain, I almost get there and I fall back down again…I start up again and the same thing happens.
I feel claws on each side of my neck, slowly digging into my skin, Judycat has decided, in the middle of the night, that my face needs to be thoroughly licked clean.
Get up, shower, put on a blue suit, so I look more like a Head Liberian, hair back in a ponytail with a tan rubber band, and I’m back in the” hamster cage” for the rest of the day.
People speak to me at work I don’t hear them, not interested.
Walk through the slush on the way home, I decide to pick-up Chinese food, Judycat likes a bit of a sparerib every now and then and I like fried rice.
I enter my front door, Judy cat is not there to pounce on me as usual, take off my coat and boots and go into the bedroom, she is sitting in front of the mirror, like someone watching TV.
Night Three
I pull up a chair and a TV table to sit in front of the mirror as well, placing a dish, with the spareribs on it for Judycat, we both settle into eating our food, when a very small dot appears on the mirror, it gets larger and larger, it is moving towards us, it is, Sal riding in a teensy red car, he stops, gets out of the car, and before I can ask any questions he says,:
“ I bring you a message”
He feels the inside pockets of his jacket, then the outside jacket pocket, back pants pocket, and front pants pocket, finally smiling brightly as he takes out a wrinkled piece of paper, and reads:
“Breath “or “breathe” and…” live” or “ he turns the scrap of paper trying to read what it says, or life, sorry, they don’t get these messages too clear sometimes”
I reply:
“Breath or breathe, live or life, what kind of message it THAT?”
He shrugs his shoulders and smiles,
“Sorry, that’s the best I can do, gotta leave.
He blows some bubbles and gets back into the teensy car and drives away into the mirror, getting smaller and smaller until he’s just a dot, and then, he’s gone.
I look at Judycat, Judycat looks at me, and then she returns to eating her spare ribs.
I sit there a long time, thinking. I’m not sure what it all meant, or how it happened, all I know, is that on that day, I was saved
.

Last edited by Elyzabeth; 12-19-2012 at 07:13 AM..
  #8  
Old 12-19-2012, 08:08 AM
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How can you look yourself in the mirror?



I am not the monster you think me to be.
You want to know what I see, when I look in the mirror.
I see a boy of fifteen years. Just hanging around on the outskirts of the refugee camp.

My friend you need to forget images of tents and shanties. Concrete boxes stacked up. Each measuring 24 foot by 15. One per family. In ours there was My Father, Mother, Grandmother, older Brother, younger brother, my new baby sister and myself.
It was the first time I had seen that many soldiers. I was too young to remember when they took our house. My mother and sister had been raped. They killed my sister. My family fled. All I could remember was the camp.

Ah yes, the soldiers. The road was full. Tanks, Armoured bulldozers, jeeps, troop carriers…. the road was painted khaki as far as the eye could see. They came… the soldiers pointed guns at those lucky enough to be outside. They said not a word, but we knew to be still. The bulldozers just flattened our homes. They weren’t much… Still, it was home. I realized, my grandmother and baby sister were still inside. The same realization had came to those whose relatives were also still inside the buildings. A few people stuck their heads out looking for a means to escape. They were shot instantly. Suddenly a large group, burst from the building. Mostly teenage boy’s, they charged towards the tanks and bulldozers, armed with homemade slingshots. Hoping, in vain to delay the onslaught. Just long enough to let others escape. The sons of Goliath armed with stones against the children of David’s armour plated leviathan. It was instant carnage. It was few who managed to make their escape. Most of those shot were not dead, but bleeding, maimed and left to die. The bulldozers buried those who were not gunned down in flight. In amongst the wounded…. I could hear my brother screaming. I remember running, trying to get to my brother, people were holding me back. Other’s, grief stricken also, were trying to get to their wounded, dying loved ones. The crowd held them back. A few broke through and were instantly mown down. Those who survived were thrown onto the pile of bleeding, dying terrified men, women and children. The last thing I remembered was a soldier’s rifle butt in my face.
The next night I returned I could hear many still groaning, faintly, close to death. I could hear my brother; I could hear his pain and terror in amongst all the others. I could see outlines, silhouettes of the snipers.

That’s right my friend, they had posted snipers to gun down any who tried to get to their injured relatives. I managed to make my way to my brother’s side, slowly, quietly, hiding amongst the dead and the dying. I had brought him some water and a little bread. He begged me to kill him, but I could not, I left. I have no other shame greater. I could not kill my brother; I could not end his suffering. I can still hear their moaning and pleas for a merciful death.


I see a man of 25 years, burying his father. His face streaked with tears, sweat and dirt. His father’s only crime had been to draw water from the well during dry season.

No my friend it was not just an overreaction. The well is for the dry season. We have always had enough water, until they came. Look beyond their walls and their razor wire beyond the gun turrets. They have sprinklers for their lawns; they are growing tomatoes in the desert. That water comes from under our feet, but we are not allowed to touch a drop without permission. When the water runs particularly low they bring in tankers. Every now and again they send a tanker to the villages and the refugee camps. The world media show’s how generous they are and that without them, we would die of thirst. When we point out the injustice, we are just being ungrateful.


I see a man of 30, a proud man. A man who has overcame all odds. A man who has raised and borrowed sufficient money. Enough to buy him, a part share in an olive grove. It was not much but it meant my children would have a better future than I… I worked hard on that farm, the whole family did. At harvest season, the extended families of all those who owned a share came to get the work done. That was when the soldiers came. Many were killed, they bulldozed our olive grove. All that love and hard work…. The few who survived were left without income, most of their family dead. Most of us were in debt. The loans we had got to see us through to harvest could now not be paid. I lost my son, my wife and my daughter…
You will have to excuse me a moment my friend.

It’s not that I had never seen a grown man cry before. I had known grief. It was only then, that it paled in comparison. I no longer had a clear sense of why I had gone there. Could I still kill him?

I’m sorry my friend, But now surely you must be able to see why. Everything I have ever had of any true worth has been taken away from me by the soldiers. So that those who sit comfortably in their suburban housing. Behind their razor wire and gun turrets have room to expand their garrison of Eden.

He opened his jacket to reveal the suicide vest I knew to be there.

All that is left is for me to get as close to the checkpoint and its soldiers as I can.

Why? Because I no longer have a choice…

He stared at the ceiling... Seemingly lost in a temporary silence. Which he then broke with a short burst of laughter …

ALLAH AKBAR! … I used to believe god was great. If he is so great why has he allowed so many to suffer. How can he allow such horror wrought by one of his peoples over another?

No my friend. I do not do this because I believe I will go to heaven. I no longer believe in such concepts. The religious extremists are the only ones still able to obtain the means to fight back. There is no one else. If it means I can end my suffering and bring forward the time when my people will be free, then it is what I must. Or so I thought.

Why did I think it would help? I believed if we could just kill enough of their families, their children, that maybe then they would begin to understand. Understand the suffering they are causing. I thought if they suffered also, that it may open their eyes. Now I realize that their suffering will be used to justify more attacks on my people. It will bring more tanks, bulldozers and armed settlers.

Because my friend! I no longer have any choice. If I could find a way out I would. I do not want anyone else to suffer. A van with gunmen will turn up in the next hour. They will take me close to my target. Then watch if I don’t do as they say, they will shoot. This would detonate the bomb. It is booby trapped so I cannot remove it and it has a timer so I cannot make a run for it. I do not want to be killed in an explosion. More importantly, I don’t want anyone else to be hurt by my actions.

I didn’t know what I had expected to find. Certainly not a gentle and kind human being. Not someone so caring and thoughtful. I had expected some kind of monster. Somebody I would have killed in a heartbeat. Why? Well I guess you’re entitled to know. My daughter was on holiday in Tel Aviv, she was killed by a suicide bomber. I went there to find out what kind of a sick monster would do such a thing. Straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. I wanted to make that son of a bitch take a long, hard look in the mirror. Recognize the monster he truly was. Then I was gonna gun that mother fucker down. I felt dreadful, for the past ten years I had been seething with hatred and vengeance. I had been financing the murder of these people. I truly believed them to be extremist scum, who would stop at nothing to destroy the Jewish race. Instead I find people struggling to survive. People who keep getting back up, only to be kicked back down and shat on, again and again. Kind people, compassionate people. I was the one who needed to take a long, hard look in the mirror. How could I have killed this man, he had suffered more than I could have thought possible.

I know you came here with the intention of killing me my friend. I hope you will not remember me as a monster.

“I cannot kill you. You are not a monster.” But I had become one without even realizing. I dropped my gun.

You have to kill me; innocent people are going to die. The cycle will just carry on and on.

I heard the sound of a vehicle approaching. The gun men! The one's who have used this poor man’s grief to further their own twisted, fucked up agenda. I picked up my gun and told Abdul what I was thinking.

No my friend, the men who are coming are no different to myself. Their grief has been used against them by those who claim to follow the Prophet. They do not deserve to die.
You must take me outside and shoot me from a safe distance. Please my friend I beg you.

I could not. Faced with such a dilemma and the van getting closer.... I ran. The two armed men led him to the van; it still wasn’t’t too late to help. Was it? I could have got to the check point first, alerted the soldiers. I followed the van. As soon as we had left the village and were out in the desert. The back doors of the van flew open. Abdul leapt from the moving van before the gunmen could react. I could not be sure if I heard him shout Allah Akbar before the vest exploded. Maybe I just wanted to believe, he had made his way to his heaven for doing the right thing. Maybe I was just kidding myself. The van sped off as soon as the vest blew. I screeched to a halt. The blast had not been what I was expecting. Abdul was still alive…barely. I had never seen a human being in such a mess. He begged me for a quick, merciful death. I held him in my arms. My tears were flowing freely as I put my gun to his head. I killed the first person I had ever cared about since Katie’s death.

Now I’m waiting on death row in an Israeli jail for aiding an attempted suicide bomber. I have no faith in my countries diplomatic wrangling, in an attempt to bring me home. Their efforts are half hearted to say the least. I look in the mirror and see a man who was once a monster. A man driven by grief... driven to do something horrendous. A man who has seen light. Just in time to do the right thing, before it was too late. I just hope Abdul had the chance to do the same in those moments before his death.
  #9  
Old 12-19-2012, 03:14 PM
Gillen Reid (Offline)
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She wakes up, her cool blue eyes working to adjust to the painful searing light illuminating the room. Lifting herself up from the cold concrete flooring she notes the cheap looking table and chair dominating the cell, along with the worn out leather arm choir neatly placed in the corner. Eventually she adapts to the bright light and overlooks the interior decorations of the imprisoning room.
There’s a robust and secure entrance to the room, any skilful attempt to escape would be met by a solid wall of cold steel, and a vast mirror hanging from the main wall creates the classic illusion of making the place seem bigger than it actually is. The walls are high quality brickwork coated in a reflective shade of white paint, as if to intensify the brightness of the room.

Suddenly a tannoy like broadcast interrupts her line of thought “What’s in the mirror?”

Ignoring the question, she gingerly approaches the mirror, presenting her slim and toned physical presence, wearing a dark green pair of shorts and matching T-Shirt, her clear skin clouded by perspiration, long platinum hair plain and unstyled, adjusting her features into a concentrated frown she notes a swelled and bruised right cheekbone, a faint sting at the back of her head and a dull headache.

Cautiously walking towards the entrance she nervously shouts “heelloo?!” …. nothing.

The thick steel door is quickly unlocked and 2 men appear, reacting to the surprise she assumes battle stance, they attack her with viscous and precise force, unable to match such strength the girl is quickly overwhelmed. The men say nothing, opting instead to bind her wrists and drag her towards the worn out armchair, sitting her down one of the men drone “don’t move!” she obeys settling into the chair appreciating the relative lack of pain.

The 2 men leave the room with haste and purpose closing the metal entrance securing it via 3 different locking mechanisms.

Suddenly her headache intensifies, the source of the pain coming from the back of her head above her neck slightly to the left. Remaining still the pain gradually fades, she closes her eyes, attempting to reassemble the lost past few hours and restore her equilibrium.

Disturbed by slow casual footsteps...

The steel structure is noisily opened once more and a bespectacled man slowly enters, his eyes focused on the confused girl. He is dressed in an expensive looking white shirt with black trousers shoes and a fresh silk black tie, overlain with a full length white lab coat. His thinning black hair side parted with a spare turf forming a comma down the left side of his forehead. The whole look screams mad scientist.

Holding a folder containing at least 100 files. “Jessica Ridgewell?” he groans in a strong german accent.

“What? Is that my name?”

Ignoring the question he introduces himself “Professor Jurgen Berger, Psychologist” routinely reaching for a handshake forgetting that there would be no recipient.

He frustratingly takes the seat next to the table and places it in front of her, sits down and opens the folder reading out the profile “Jessica Ridgewell, age 32, height, 5 foot 2, weight 8 stone 12, supposed occupation, Landscape Gardner, your real occupation? Nobody knows…”

“Today’s challenge Miss Ridgewell, is to work out what your occupation really is…”

“To begin with I must say sorry, my men were under orders not to hurt you, they need to be sent for hearing test” his attention brought to the freshly bruised cheekbone “That’s a nasty injury, I’ll have doctor come in and have look at that”

The tannoy screams “WHATS IN THE MIRROR!!”

Recoiling in pain, Ridgewell looks at the man in utter bewilderment, trying to think of something to say.

“You hear something?” the man asks.

“Did you not hear that?! Tell me you heard that!?”

The mirror starts to shimmer and liquidize like a light breeze on a still night pool, suddenly the mirror evaporates, revealing a static lifeless individual, the lack of lighting makes it difficult to make out who it is, the slender build suggests a female but she could never be sure. As if in recognition her heart accelerates, not in fear just a heightened sense of things, her eyes begin blazing hungry for information and ideas on how to escape.

The man slowly rises out of the chair, dropping the folder and retreating slowly towards the steel door, whispering german into his collar mic “she’s here” which her mind translates unknowingly.

In a surge of anger she breaks free of the strapping’s striking the professor with a swift elbow and fist combination knocking him clean out, there's a loud thud as as he hits the ground, searching him she locates the connected radio, and the sturdy set of keys locking the door, an intense siren is activated and the headache follows suit. Glancing momentarily at the slender figure, she contemplates what she will confront when escaping.

The tannoy whispers "it begins"
  #10  
Old 12-21-2012, 10:30 PM
FaradayConstant (Offline)
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Coherence

Today, Thomas thought to himself as he opened his eyes to a dark bedroom, the cycle breaks.

He let out a long breath and reflected on all the implications that that simple thought had. Images of the world after flashed in his mind as he stared at the ceiling. The thought of an after came as a relief; after he stopped eating his own tail, took the final bite to break the circle and slither away. He very nearly smiled at the thought of freedom, freedom from a tormented self-destructive cycle with one final act of self-destruction. And what Thomas felt as he reflected on his last day on Earth surprised him, but revealed to himself how ready he was.

He rolled to his side to check the time and met a cold damp spot on the pillow beneath his face. No surprise, the night terrors strangled his thoughts at night. No matter how he constructed the dam in his mind during the waking hours, sleep unleashed a pale white horse to destroy it. When the gas station attendant had asked if he was okay, he stopped going outside, he couldn’t hide it anymore. As if he was hiding anything behind his tortured brown eyes anyway, or more telling, his complete seclusion from anyone and anything he had ever known.

Thomas looked at the time and considered what time should even mean to him anymore. He reached for the power cord and in an instant time became infinite. He became an astronaut floating in the expanse of space isolated from everything, left only with memories and bewildering views of nothing. A landscape without a horizon to gauge one’s place. Cosmically, nothing mattered. In one minute on Earth one- hundred people will die, but hope springs eternal with double the births. In one minute throughout the entirety of the universe, nothing happens; no one blinks an eye at a dying star. Everything simply is, without explanation. Time means nothing to an infinite entity expanding the very space it inhabits. Time now meant nothing to Thomas.

He sat at the side of his bed and rubbed his hands over his face thinking he needed a shave. That would, of course, be pointless, he told himself.

Get on with it, he thought as he looked through the curtains to the sky that was still recovering from the night’s violent outburst.

When he stood, the burden of the planet’s mass and those buried within it became all too apparent and he found himself unable to move. A burden that no one deserved, haunting him with the phantom wailing of a child that never had the opportunity to echo through this home. Not home, self-inflicted prison.

This place, the two of them built together, began eroding when Thomas came home without either him or her. Drywall crumbling away to reveal bars through which he cannot escape. Nothing leaves this place, and now he has guaranteed his eternal confinement. Or perhaps it was his last attempt to escape. The outcomes to both sides of the coin toss met the same end.
Was this hesitation or a realization that he simply was about to be not? He was about to embody the very feeling his moment of introspection imparted earlier, nothingness.

No need to shower, do laundry, make coffee, ignore the pleading voicemails from the remainders of his family, or most painful of all, walk past his bedroom. Couldn’t even bring himself to say his name. The safari theme wallpaper torn from the walls weeks ago still hung, desperately clinging as if hoping the adventure might once again continue. No playtime for you Mr. Elephant. This mundane daily routine that he drifted through often without second thought wasn’t what he was breaking, at least not primarily. It was the moment to moment tormented reminder that both of them were once part of his life—the most important part—and were no longer.

The fifteen-foot pace between the bedroom and the bathroom was, now that time no longer existed, an eternity. The bathroom was where he would do it. He opened the medicine cabinet over the sink and pulled down all the orange pill bottles he could find. Pouring the remainders of each into his hand he lost himself in the deadly Technicolor concoction of deadly shapes and doses.

Thomas asked himself one last time if this is what he really wanted. What thought goes through the mind of someone about to end their own life, before the jump from the bridge or pull the trigger; Thomas found solace in the idea that they were all thinking the same thing: finally free. He felt nothing. The cycle breaks.

He looked into the mirror, and everything had changed. His eyes widened and as he collapsed to the cold tile, the pills ran a multicolored river into the sink.

***

Today, Thomas thought as he opened his eyes to a darkened bedroom, the cycle breaks.

The sunlight through the window inconveniently aligned with his eyes and he turned his head on his pillow into a damp puddle of his own drool. Cringing he looked up to ceiling hoping that the human alarm clock down the hall would hit its own snooze.

“It’s your turn,” he said making faces and animals out of the paint texture on the ceiling.

She rolled over, touched his unshaven face and whispered into his ear, “I got him last night.”

Letting out a long breath ending with a groan, Thomas turned to sit at the side of his bed. So much for breaking the cycle.

“What time is it?” Thomas asked moving to put slippers on.

“Time for you to go take care of that,” she said pointing out the door from under the sheets.

He stood, stretched, and for a moment, found himself unable to move. As quickly as the frightening paralysis void of feeling came, it was gone.

Get on with it, he thought to himself while the wailing down the hall continued on.

Jacob’s room was lined with astronauts, stars, galaxies and planets. An entire universe for his young mind to explore. An incomprehensible expanse of time and space for which Jacob had all the time in the world to learn. Nothing but time for the child. Thomas imagined Jacob in an astronaut’s suit viewing the endless horizons of space floating in the void of the outer reaches of space.

Summoning the numerous baby books he read over the past weeks, he produced a variety of sounds and hand gestures to calm the screaming child to no avail. The child’s face was bright red. A pulsating sun.

“Hey babe, I think he’s got a fever,” he yelled behind him over the cries. He placed the back of his hand on Jacob’s forehead in the same fashion he learned from his mother.

The reply from the bedroom came softly, “The thermometer is in the bathroom, go check it.”

Bouncing Jacob up and down in his arms, Thomas moved to the bathroom hastily assuring him the issue was moot.

The bathroom was the only room in the house that was tidy and in order; a sanctuary amid the chaos outside. And yet he imagined his home as a prison. A thought he couldn’t get out of his head. This place wasn’t a prison, for Thomas, it was home.

“Honey, where is the thermometer?”

“Check behind the medicine cabinet.”

In the rush to open the medicine cabinet, pill bottles of different sizes fell from the shelves into the sink below. With a silent swear, he grabbed the thermometer and closed the cabinet, looked into the mirror and everything had changed.

Last edited by FaradayConstant; 12-22-2012 at 10:23 AM.. Reason: Added Title
 

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