Thursday, November 13, 2014

You Give This a Title

I sighed as I mechanically lowered some nearby dishes into the soapy foam in the kitchen sink of Bobby’s Space-Bar.  God knows how many dishes I’d cleaned in my life.  The days were starting to blur together in one tedious routine; Go to work, fix the car, take food pills, sleep 3 hours, go to work, fix the car, take food pills, sleep 3 hours, an endless cycle of melancholia and countryside fantasies of having one single glorious day of quiet solitude and no daily government-given schedule to follow.
Or not follow.  It was September 6th, 2145, at like 6:45:31 a.m when I officially decided to ditch work.  After long contemplation and the persistent longing for silence and comfortable loneliness nagging me in the back of my mind, I did something most people of my generation would never dream of doing.  I pressed snooze.  As I lay in bed staring down my white ceiling, I finalized my plans.  It was time to see what happened when the world couldn’t rely on a 16-year-old janitor to hide in the kitchen and do all their dirty work for them.  
I hopped in my newly fixed car and stepped on the reverse pedal.  I was always old-fashioned because I preferred the vintage manual cars, as opposed to the standard self-driving vehicles most people drove.  Security drones whipped around me like flies as I stepped on the gas pedal till it rested on the floor.  Apartments flew past me on all sides in a blur of gray and white.  The luminescent street signs beckoned me to drive my usual route which would take me through town to Bobby’s Space-Bar where I would robotically clean dirty dishes and mop floors till midnight.
I rolled down the windows and felt a chilling, brittle wind rush against my skin.  As the buildings started thinning out, I relaxed and ignored the speed limit signs on the side of the road.  I had a couple more minutes of peace before I heard the familiar sirens and saw red white and blue lights flickering in my rear-view mirror.  It’s funny how those colors symbolize freedom until they’re flashing behind you.  I pulled over and put on my seatbelt.  
A uniformed man walked briskly over to my window clutching a clipboard.  “Is your name Peter Crofts?” he asked.
I nodded.  “Let me save you the hassle,” I said as I handed the officer my paperwork.  “Just give me the ticket and we can both part our separate ways.  I’m in a bit of a rush.”
“That’s not why I pulled you over,” the officer replied.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Step out of the vehicle,” he demanded, strain in his voice.
I nearly tripped on the door as I scrambled out of the car.  “What’s this about?” I demanded.
“You have been officially convicted with high treason and are sentenced to death,” he said.
I dropped my paperwork.
We drove in silence and soon pulled into an empty parking lot.  A tall building covered in mirrors cast a shadow over our car.  I didn’t notice the pair of armored security guards until we stopped and the officer tightened my computerized shackles telling me to “Watch myself.”
I got out of the car and was pushed through a pair of double doors.  “What’s going on here?” I spat.  “Where am I?”
“The end of the road,” the officer replied.
He led me up five different escalators and three endless hallways till we stopped outside a glass door with “Mr. Califord” painted in silver letters across the top.  
“We’re here,” he muttered as he rapped on the door.  A muffled “Come in,” sounded from the other side.
. . .
“Have you ever really considered what it really means to be alive?” Mr. Califord asked me, shuffling through a pile of neglected documents.
I sat across from the suited man in silence.  
“Is it the ability to move, breathe, and eat?” he asked.  “Or is it something deeper?”
I cleared my throat.  “Well by the looks of it I’ll never know.  Thanks for the death sentence by the way.”
Mr. Califord glared.  “You- Peter, are the first person to ditch work in a hundred years.  Do you know why?”
“No,” I replied.
Mr. Califord stood up from his desk, walked towards me and lowered himself till his eyes bore holes through mine.  “Because you thought for yourself.”
His response took me off guard.  “Well who else am I gonna think for?” I asked.
He shook his head and paced around my seat while stroking his hair.  “In all the years I’ve led this country, I’ve never allowed a single person to make a decision for themselves.  Do you know why that is?”
“No,” I replied.
“Because when people make their own decisions it leads to chaos- wars, riots, how do you think these things are started?”
My computerized shackles squeezed my wrists so hard my hands were slowly turning purple.  “I like to think that chaos is started by ignorant controlling pricks like you,” I retorted.  “It helps me sleep at night- less guilt, you know?”
“I cannot allow one of my citizens be the cause of nationwide turmoil under my jurisdiction,” Mr. Califord answered.
I closed my eyes and a wave of adrenaline surged through me.  “I’m curious,” I began.  “What’s it like for one to use their entire vocabulary in a single sentence?”
Mr. Califord smiled and the door behind me swung open.  A rush of fleeting footsteps echoed around the office and two armored guards forced out of my seat.  They grabbed my hair and forced me to my knees.  
“Make it snappy,” Mr. Califord said.  “I want a nice clean head shot- no bloodstains on my new rug.”
A sick feeling pumped through my stomach and I immediately knew Mr. Califord would have a lot more to clean up than bloodstains.
“Say goodbye,” one of the guards smiled.
“Go to hell,” I replied.
Mr. Califord turned his back as the series of bullets met my chest.  Some headshot.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Horror Story

*A small disclaimer* 
This story was written for my creative writing class in less than two hours, so if it's not "literary enough" for you or any of that crap, don't read it.  It's meant to be a sort of nonsensical essay in the spirit of Halloween, so don't take it too seriously.

Our Jetta pulled into the empty gift shop parking lot in a series of sharp screeches and engine bursts. A nice weekend hunting trip would be just the thing to take our minds off the stress of school and work, not to mention give our family some quality time to spend hiking and hunting together.  As we came to a stop, my dad swiveled in his chair excitedly.

“Who wants souvenirs?” he asked.

Janice excitedly raised her hand and exclaimed “Me, me! Oh, pick me!”

Our dad laughed and beckoned for both of us to follow him inside. As we perused
the racks of animal skins and outdoor equipment, I settled on a long, jagged hunting knife and a leather pouch to carry it in. Janice came skipping eagerly around the corner and looked down at my knife curiously.

“What’s that?” she asked.

I revealed the blade from its pouch and displayed it to Janice. “This is a hunting knife,” I said. 
“You only use it for skinning animals.”

“What’s skinning animals?” she asked.

“Well first you take the knife and you stab it into the animal like this,” I said, motioning in the air, “and then you drag the knife across the stomach really quickly. You then can use that opening to cut all the animal’s skin off.”

“What happens to the skin?” Janice asked, her eyes wide with fascination. “You make it into pillows and put it on your couches,” I replied.

“Cool!” she exclaimed as she ran off animatedly.

We bought our souvenirs and climbed back in the car. “How much longer?” Janice asked as we pulled out of the parking lot.

“Longer,” dad replied. “We have to drive up a dirt road for a while and then we’ll be there.”

Our jetta creeped up the long winding dirt road and the engine roared in protest as we came to a lurching stop in front of an enormous cabin dwarfed only by the enormous pine trees reaching towards the starry night sky. Janice jumped out of the car and ran towards the front door.

“Slow down, Janice!” dad shouted. “The ground here’s rocky and uneven. You could fall!”

Janice turned around giggling, the moonlight casting an eerie halo around her black hair. Dad popped the car trunk open. I heaved my sleeping bag and pillow out of the trunk and dad pulled out his hunting rifle. “You girls go straight to bed,” he said. “We’re gonna have an early start tomorrow if we wanna catch those deer.”

“Are we gonna skin them?” Janice asked as she twirled and skipped around the front porch.

“I’ll take care of that,” dad replied. “Little girls shouldn’t be skinning animals at your age. You could easily lose a finger.”

A defeated look crossed Janice’s face, but soon got pushed aside. Dad unlocked the cabin’s front door and light leaked out onto the porch. “That’s weird,” dad said. “The lights are already on.”

But none of us noticed. The drive to the cabin had exhausted all of us, and Janice and I gratefully piled in the queen size bed tucked away in a roomy bedroom at the end of a dark hallway. We fell asleep to the sound of trees in the wind and branches scratching softly against our window.

When morning arrived, dad ran into our room and yanked the sheets off the bed. “Rise and shine!” he exclaimed as we hopped out of bed eagerly. “It’s hunting time.”

We walked for a few minutes and arrived at the edge of a dense forest. “Everyone have their things?” dad asked. Janice and I nodded simultaneously as I readjusted my backpack stuffed with blankets, trail mix, and my beloved hunting knife. Dad led the way as we walked through the forest on a well-worn path up hills, beside streams, and through meadows.

Janice glanced around anxiously. “Are we gonna see any bears here?” she asked.

Dad shook his head, dismissing the idea. “No honey, bears aren’t found in this part of the Wyoming.”

Janice turned towards me with desperate eyes. “Sis, are we gonna see any bears today?”

I shook my head and closed my eyes “No, we’re not. Relax Janice,” I laughed as we continued up the trail. The path began to slope and the trees started thinning out as we climbed up the trail.

“I learned a song in school last week,” Janice declared. Dad nodded. “That’s nice, honey, how does it go?”

“No bears are out tonight, daddy shot them all last night.” she sang.

“That’s not much of a song,” I retorted.

“It’s for a game,” she replied. “It’s really fun. Everyone goes and hides, and the
seeker sings that song, and then looks for them. Once they’re found, they chase the seeker back to base.”

“Mmhmm,” I muttered as we continued up the trail.

“I’m tired,” Janice sighed as she sat down on the ground decisively. We had been walking for a little over an hour, so we stopped for a short snack break. As soon as we started walking again Janice insisted on carrying my backpack for me because hers was “too heavy,” but soon after we switched bags again.

As the day came to a close, and the sun cast a red glow over the whole forest, dad rolled out our sleeping bags next to each other and proudly hung our prizes from a nearby tree; two ducks and a full-grown deer.

“Daddy can I please help skin the deer?” Janice implored.

“Absolutely not,” he replied. “A seven year old shouldn’t be handling knives. It’s extremely dangerous.”

I rolled my eyes. If dad didn’t want Janice to be in any “dangerous situations,” why’d he invite her to come along on our hunting trip in the first place? I curled up in my sleeping bag and watched as my dad skinned the deer in the distance, Janice skipping around and picking up branches.

“Alright, time for all of us to go to bed,” dad announced. The forest was a deep, rich black now, and there were no stars in the sky. Wolves cried in the distance and the constant chirp of crickets surrounded us on all sides.

“But daddy,” Janice complained.

“Now,” he said pointing to her sleeping bag. I pulled my backpack to my chest, trying to ignore the sound of the distant animals, but eventually drifted into a deep, dreamless sleep.

I awoke with a start. I had grown used to the distant sound of animals, but the laughing and singing of what sounded like a child was a different story. The voice was far off, and if you weren’t listening for it, you may not have heard it at all. The voice was playful and high-pitched, a little too familiar for comfort.

“No bears are out tonight, daddy shot them all last night,” it sang. I shot out of my sleeping bag and knelt next to my dad’s sleeping bag. It was completely still and smelled like dead animals.

“Daddy,” I pleaded. “Did you hear that?” No answer. I shook his shoulders quickly. My heartbeat felt louder than a gunshot. “Daddy,” I whispered as I rolled him over. His eyes were glued shut, his cold hands frozen and still. “Wake up!” I exclaimed desperately.

“No bears are out tonight, daddy shot them all last night,” the voice teased, but this time, a little louder.

I swore under my breath and ran back to my sleeping bag. Janice was gone. My heart was beating a mile a minute as I ripped open my backpack searching frantically for my hunting knife. “Where is it?” I exclaimed.

“No bears are out tonight, daddy shot them all last night.”

The knife was gone.

I tossed my backpack aside and stumbled behind a tree hidden in the shadows.

My sobs were barely heard over the sound of leaves brushing against each other and the distant giggles.

“Where are you?” it exclaimed mockingly.

I covered my mouth and curled up in a ball. What happened to Janice? What would happen to my dad? What would happen to me?

I heard the sound of twigs snap in back of me and I slowly turned my head. Janice stood before me clutching my hunting knife, giggling inhumanly. “Found you,” she said.

It took dad many years to get over the death of his daughter, and although her murder was anything but natural, her death was dismissed by policemen as a casualty of the hunting in 

Wyoming, a victim to the sparsely situated grizzly bears in the area. The police officers never found Janice’s bloody hunting knife, or the broken twigs around the crime scene. They also never noticed the caucasian colored pillows sitting in Janice’s house for the many years to come.