Mary's Stories

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Mary's Stories

Post by Bloody Mary on Sat Aug 29, 2009 8:22 am

Okay, I'll start with a bit of information about when and why I wrote this. It was an exercise in writing I had to do several years ago. We were to write something, the only limit being the length. So I wrote a short story.

As far as critique goes: I want to know what you think I might improve and keep the story short. I'd also like to know what you think about the story in general.

Dignified Plague

They barred the windows, they locked the doors and hid in the cellars – mothers holding children close to themselves, fathers grasping whatever they intended to use as a weapon so hard their knuckles turned white. Everyone strong enough was holding a piece of iron – any piece at hand. Much as the odds were against them, they were determined to try.

The Lords and Ladies came: elegant, colourful and laughing, like a flock of exotic birds. They strode lazily through the abandoned village. From time to time one of them would open a door and peek inside, but they never entered. It was almost as if they were guests on a banquet and were choosing what to eat.

Having done nothing, it seemed as if they were going to leave. One of them suddenly stopped as a smile spread across his face. He was a handsome man and yet the smile came of as unpleasant and cruel. With a dramatic flare that would have looked ridiculous, if preformed by somebody else, he pointed at a small cottage. A woman went over to the door and pushed it open. Unlike before, she didn’t peer inside but strode in confidently.

Without stopping or looking around, she headed for a small rug carpet and kicked it away, revealing a trap door. With the same eerie smile that the young man before displayed she beckoned two other men. They rushed to her side: one opened the trapdoor and the latter jumped into a dusty cellar.

He looked around, raised his arm and flicked his hand – a moment later a small ball of light appeared over his head. It wasn’t very strong but enough to see. What he saw must have pleased him because now he too was smiling.

There were several children huddled together and in front of them a woman with a knife. The man ignored her and focused on a smallish girl of maybe six. The girl looked back, the expression of fear slowly melting, as she stood up. Then she took a step forward, her face dreamy…

And the man smiled, as unpleasantly as the others. The Lords and Ladies took what they wanted…

Bloody Mary
A Contradiction

Posts : 25
Join date : 2009-08-28
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Re: Mary's Stories

Post by Bloody Mary on Sun Aug 30, 2009 1:22 pm

Again, I mainly want to know if there's something here that needs working on.

Price of Freedom

For the first time in ages she had fought the demon. With the fury that her was characteristic of her family long ago, she regained control of her body. Somehow, by sheer willpower alone—willpower she should have lost long ago—she managed to force the monster out: out of her mind, out of her soul, into the open.

It was a novel sensation for the demon. For years, he had listened to the anguished mental cries, as he twisted her body and committed atrocity after atrocity, forcing her to watch in terror and disgust. She had been his praised pet; most entertaining and as harmless as a declawed and defanged old lioness.

And now his little lioness had broken free, suddenly full of fire and will to fight. It might have been new, but it was also entertaining, the demon decided. He would break her again, of course.

He reached out for her mind—the mind he knew so well—and started tearing through the memories, he knew would make her break down. He forced her to relive the death of her beloved brother, all over again. And then, as she sobbed and begged for him to stop, and for her brother to come back, he started destroying her memories of him.

He would take all her memories, her only treasures.

She fell to her knees sobbing, desperately trying to retain at least a bit of her identity. Something, anything—the tiniest bit of memory, a hint of who she was… But the demon kept diving deeper and deeper into her mind, ripping everything apart and leaving only emptiness.

Ever so slowly her sobs died down and she stopped resisting. Her mind was now an almost total blank, with only a tiny nagging feeling that told her that she should kill the thing before her. Wordlessly, she stared into the water.

And then she rose; giddily, as if she were drunk. For the first time in years her face was calm and so was her mind. For the first time in years one could again see the eerie serene beauty of her pale skin and silvery hair and how oddly they contrasted with her violet eyes.

Slowly, dreamily she headed forward, deeper into the pond, her eyes never leaving the triumphant demon. She was mere inches away from him, knee deep in water, when suddenly, she ducked. With one smooth move she grabbed a sword she had just noticed and drove it right into the demons heart.

Looking up, still ever so serene, she twisted the blade.

Bloody Mary
A Contradiction

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Re: Mary's Stories

Post by Bloody Mary on Sun Aug 30, 2009 1:23 pm

Just tell me what you think. What needs improving?

Snow Queen

Little Monique was looking through the window at the white world. The streets were covered with snow and so were the parked cars and the leafless trees. It looked beautiful, if a bit eerie, she felt. It was the first time in her life that she’d seen snow not on a photo or on TV.

There was nobody outside, she noticed. Before, at this time of the day, there wouldn’t be many people, but there would be some. Her neighbour would be working in her garden tidying dead leaves, some cars would ride by, somebody would pass carrying a bag of groceries. Now, everything was still.

Perfectly quiet, perfectly unnatural.

And yet Monique couldn’t bring herself to look away. She wasn’t sure what she was waiting for—for somebody to appear? For a car to zoom by? Or maybe it was something more? Something she couldn’t name?

And then she thought she saw something just out of the corner of her eye. Something black? Or was it just dark grey? She turned her head, but there was nothing there. Maybe it was a dog that run away? It was a bit disappointing. She had no idea what she had hoped for, but it certainly wasn’t just more snow and an empty street.

This made her snap out of her reverie and decide to go and have some fun with the snow. She had seen children on TV do all sorts of interesting things with it and she wanted to make her own snowman.

She dressed quickly, as if afraid the snow might disappear while she wasn’t looking at it. Forgetting her scarf, gloves and hat, she dashed out, her face flushed with excitement.

And than she froze, staring at what was standing right in front of her. It was a sleigh. A real horse-drawn sleigh made of beautiful white wood, laden with soft furs. And inside sat the most beautiful woman Monique had ever seen, even if she was white as snow. Oddly enough, she wore only an evening dress made of shimmering pale blue fabric and a diamond tiara.

Monique hadn’t expected that. Her parents did not believe that fairy tales did a child any good and avoided telling any to their daughter. They didn’t let her watch anything too fantastic either. It left her unprepared for encounters such as this.

The woman smiled warmly at Monique with blue lips and extended her hand towards her. The little girl wondered vaguely why all the woman’s make-up was either white or blue. It seemed odd—her mother always wore shades of brown.

Even without the guidance of stories, Monique was guessing this all had to do something with winter.

“Come,” the stranger said in a melodious voice. Monique had never been told of the Snow Queen. She had never listened to the tale of the brave girl, who saved her brother and why he needed saving. She saw no danger and obeyed.

Later, her mother only found her jacket lying in a puddle of melting snow.

Bloody Mary
A Contradiction

Posts : 25
Join date : 2009-08-28
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Re: Mary's Stories

Post by Bloody Mary on Sun Aug 30, 2009 1:24 pm

I always want feedback, so please, tell me what needs working on here. Also, I don't really like the title, so any help with thinking of a better one would be appreciated.

I might continue this, if I figure out what to do next. So, if you have an idea what could happen next, tell me.

Bringing Change

The room was a mess. Actually, saying it was a mess was an understatement. It looked like a battle had taken place there: a smashed table had been somehow embedded into the wall, just next to the door; broken chairs littered the floor, along with sad remains of books that had probably once filled the shelves. Lorraine had tried not to look at the shelves too much, but her eyes kept turning towards them. Somebody had smashed a middle-aged woman into them and left her body suspended by the beams that pierced it on the impact.

She was still there, dressed in a pair of blue pants and a lilac shirt, her sandy hair hanging limply around her face. Her clothes were stained with blood and so was the floor. Briefly, Lorraine wondered, how come there was so much of it. Then she realized that not all of the red fluid was blood. Some of it was smeared paint. Lorraine looked at the floor again, trying to determine if the paint had spilled from some container. But no, it was too randomly placed.

The young policewoman knelt down, trying to make sense of the carnage. And then she noticed it: a sigil. It was smudged, but clear enough. Not that she had any idea what it was, but now at least she could guess why the paint on the floor. Maybe it was some odd idea on redecorating, maybe somebody had broken in to vandalize the house or maybe the poor owner ended up the victim of some cult.

Sighing, Lorraine decided that it was a bit too early to start forming any hypothesis. She had to get on with her work, anyway. There were photos to make and the coroner would be there soon.

Leona Dalley looked at her work, a keen sense of pride welling up in her chest. Her floor—the annoyingly bland floor of pale wood—was now covered in beautiful red runes. But their beauty was a functional one: they would help her bring Change to her life and to the life of others.

Her eyes wandered towards the center of the room, where the offering lay. Peacefully asleep and unaware of her glorious destiny, lay Leona’s little daughter. She looked so sweet and for a moment Leona felt a pang of regret at having to rob the child of its life. It was so young, so innocent, so full of potential… Maybe she could find some stray dog?

With an angry shake of her head, she chased the thoughts away. Would a stray dog be proof enough of her determination? No. She had to give something of value and surely her own flesh and blood would be valuable enough.

She took a deep breath, closed her eyes and started chanting the spell of summoning. At first, it was easy enough: she had learned it by heart. Indeed, she repeated it over and over in her head, whenever she had the time: when she was washing up, cooking or cleaning. And when her husband was not at home, she’d take the book it was written in and read it to herself.

Still, repeating something in one’s mind was not the same as chanting it and she started stumbling over the longer words. Yet again, she felt doubtful, but then she remembered her last quarrel with her husband and with new determination, she resumed chanting.

Once she pronounced the last syllable, she opened her eyes and watched as the summoning continued, now without her help. The air just a few steps of her daughter started to dance, as if during a hot day. With every second it blurred more and more, then started to grow darker. It really was a poor description of something much more sinister: it was as if a piece of night slithered into the room. It danced sinuously in the air, ever so slowly taking the form of a hooded being shrouded in a cloak.

Now the doubt wasn’t just budding in Leona’s mind: it was screaming at her that the whole thing had been a mistake. She bit her lip, fervently wondering where the bright colours where. The book said the summon would be pure brilliance of many colours, not a dour black.

And then the summon looked at her; its face skeletal and pale. But it was the eyes that drew her attention: they were glowing amber. Looking at them made her forget about her doubts. Her life had been so insufferable. She couldn’t take it anymore!

“I give you my daughter,” she said, choking on the words. “Please, in exchange for her, give me a better life.”

The amber eyes bore into her blue ones, and then she felt her heart sink as the creature said, its voice low: “No.”

Lorraine felt frustration well up in her, as she run over the case in her mind yet again. Once they secured the obvious evidence like the paint and the blood, and the body had been removed, they proceeded to search for more. What they found made little sense: there was a hidden compartment in one of the kitchen cupboards. It had been obviously added quite recently. Its contents had been burned to ashes, but they took it nevertheless. Maybe tests would reveal what it had once been?

And then it got weirder: the deceased was indeed the owner of the house. Her name had been Leona Dellay and she had been a housewife for the last few years. According to her neighbours, she had been nice, if a bit withdrawn. For the last few months she had been becoming progressively stranger and stranger, at least according to Mr. Sulian, a retired military officer. Had he not elaborated, Lorraine wouldn’t have been certain, if he was a reliable indicator of strangeness. As it where, she had to agree, that leaving the house as rarely as possible was strange. As was suddenly changing the way you dressed.

This, however, was not Lorraine’s main concern. As it turned out, Leona Dellay was married and had given birth to a daughter several months ago. There was a nursery in her house and several photos of Leona, her husband and the baby to prove that, but the child itself was nowhere to be found. There were some soft toys lying about haphazardly on the nursery’s floor and blood stains on the carpet. Still, there were no other signs of violence.

Until they managed to contact the husband, Lorraine nursed a small spark of hope. The father could have taken the child with him, right?

But then, finally, the husband arrived. Lorraine studied him as he entered her office: a tanned middle-aged man, his brown hair combed unbecomingly even though his clothes were immaculate. It was an interesting contrast and briefly she wondered about it.

“You wanted to see me officer?..”

“Carry,” Lorraine replied, rising to shake the man’s head. “Lorraine Carry. Please sit down, Mr. Dellay.”

The man complied, but it clearly hadn’t helped to ease his anxiousness. He kept looking around nervously, studying his surroundings like a nervous bird.

“Please, call me John,” he said, sounding as if he didn’t realize what he was saying. Lorraine supposed he was running on automatic, so to say: repeating a familiar formula out of habit, while his mind was trying to process what had happened.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” she said, well-aware that this was barely a platitude. Nevertheless, if somebody knew better what to say on such an occasion, they hadn’t informed her. “Once the post-mortem is finished, we will return your wife’s body.”

John Dalley nodded mutely. Lorraine guessed he must have been really distraught. It was certainly terrible to lose a wife and losing her in such a manner… She couldn’t imagine how she herself would react, if something like that happened to her husband.

“I have to ask you a few questions,” she said, opening her notebook. “If you want to call your…”

“You’re suspecting me?” John Dalley interrupted her. There was no indignation or fire in his statement, just dull surprise. “I guess it’s like Miss Marple said, eh? Always suspect the obvious culprit and the spouse is the most obvious in case of marriages?”

Lorraine smiled at him, then said: “I’m glad your so understanding, sir. Some people get into regular hysteria.”

John Dalley returned the smile, though his seemed faded and unreal. “To answer your question, I don’t think I need an attorney yet. If I feel I need one, I will inform you.”

Lorraine looked at him and then shrugged. He wasn’t that much of a suspect as he appeared to think. The neighbours did say that the Dalley’s quarreled recently and had had rows before, but this was nothing out of ordinary. Many couples fought; it didn’t mean they were going to brutally murder one another or hire a hitman.

“Very well,” she said. “Was anything troubling your wife recently? Maybe she received some strange letter or odd phone calls?”

John Dalley paused to think, frowning slightly. “She was getting more irritable lately. I assumed it was post-natal depression, but she didn’t want to visit a specialist… I don’t recall any strange phones or letters.”

He sighed and scratched the back of his left ear. Then he looked around Lorraine’s office, as if trying to spot something. “Wait… I remember she bought something online a few months ago, but wouldn’t tell me what. I don’t know if the package ever came, if it did, it was when I was out and she never showed it to me. I thought she needed space and didn’t ask, but now…”

“You could have been right, sir,” Lorraine said, jotting down “mysterious purchase online” nevertheless.

“I mean, she might have bought it for her mother,” John Dalley continued. “They had a difficult relationship, you see. Her mother was a bit… I don’t like to say it, I mean, she was Leona’s mother… but she was odd. She had been very strict on Leona and didn’t approve of our marriage.”

Lorraine scribbled down “conflict with mother?” and nodded encouragingly at the man.

“I always told Leona not to bother and forget her mother,” John Dalley said, shaking his head sadly. “She said I was probably right, but I know she tried contacting that old harpy. Not that she’d ever accept any gesture like this from Leona. So, anyway, I assumed she bought something for her mother and thought I might try dissuading her from giving it.”

Lorraine nodded again, before moving to another point. “Could anybody want your wife dead?”

John Dalley reacted like most people asked this question: with disbelief. “What? Leona? Of course not! She was just a housewife, not some celebrity or crime lord!”

“I know it might sound a bit odd,” Lorraine conceded. “But did she have any enemies? Um… Did she upset any cult?”

“Lorraine?” John Dalley asked, shaking his head. “No. I don’t recall anything like that.”

“I see.” Lorraine nodded. “Now, I need to ask you about your daughter-“

“Yes, officer,” the man said. “Can I take Lily home?” Seeing her expression change, he added pleadingly: “She is here, right?”

“No,” Lorraine said quietly. “No, she’s not. We’re afraid she had been kidnapped…”

It had been ages since he’d been in this realm. So long since he breathed air, smelled paint, wood, blood… anything at all. But it was all coming back: the meaning of smells and tastes, his own memories from his previous life.

He raised his hands, examining them. Claws… When he had been part of this realm, he didn’t have claws… He let his hands fall, automatically wiping them against his cloak, leaving bloody stains on the fabric.

To offer a child to him! He felt bile rise in his mouth at the very thought. How could anyone dare such a thing?

Well, he couldn’t ask now, could he? The woman was dead, just like she deserved. He turned away from her, not wishing to look on her anymore. She was a finished story now.

The child was still there, on the floor. It was still asleep, but it was not that surprising. The spell would have kept it asleep and safe until he’d accept the offering.

He knelt down in front of it and looked at it. It looked so out of place among the red runes. The pink fluffy shirt and the blue trousers didn’t agree with the image of an offering.

He extended his clawed hand and brushed his knuckles against the child soft cheek. So young… and now motherless too, because of him. He shook his head. The mother had wanted to kill this child. It was better off without her.

He wanted to leave, but a thought stopped him. Could he really leave the child here? It was still under the force of the spell and he couldn’t be sure that the father was any better than the mother.

The matter of the spell could be dealt with easily enough, but he couldn’t stay and wait for the father to return just to find out if he was going to take good care of the child. Besides, his experience told him that one could not hide one’s interest in demonology and summoning magic from their partner. The husband was most likely a partner in crime.

Gingerly, he picked the baby up, murmuring under his breath as he dispelled the magic place on the child. It blinked, as it woke up and stared up quizzically at him.

He couldn’t smile anymore, but he could carefully run the outer side of his hand against the child’s head.

“I won’t let anybody harm you,” he whispered.

Bloody Mary
A Contradiction

Posts : 25
Join date : 2009-08-28
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Re: Mary's Stories

Post by redserpent on Sun Sep 13, 2009 1:40 pm

Dignified Plague - You've got a good setup/skeleton for the story, but I think you're being a little too subtle about what's going on. I understand wanting to keep the story short, but I think you need to explain what's actually going on a bit more. If the subtlety is where you want it to be, then I'd suggest making everything more subtle as well.

Price of Freedom - I'm a little confused at what you're trying to get at here. We have a clearly depressed main character, but the reader never really gets a chance to sympathize with her, nor do we really want to at the end anyway. The demon seems to be evil, but just saying he commits atrocities isn't really enough to show us how he would deserve death. The example of the brother is good - show us why he's so important, and add more examples like that.

Snow Queen - Probably the best of the shorter three. The plot is well done, but the beginning sentence structure I think needs a little work. From what I can tell, most of the details are written in a very matter-of-fact tone. The questions can work, but they would probably need to be shown as her thoughts a bit more clearly. If you're going to get into her head, I'd suggest going all out (at least in that section), not at all, or just once or twice, but not all at once.

Anyway, I hope some of that helps. I'll try to read the longer piece when I have more time.

An Anecdote

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Re: Mary's Stories

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