Young Writers Society

Home » Read / Write » Short Stories » General Fiction Short Stories

Hell in a Handbasket



User avatar
402 Reviews



Gender: Female
Points: 6517
Reviews: 402
Mon Aug 18, 2008 4:07 am
Clo says...



I decided to make the characters Polish because I grew up extremely Polish, hearing bizarre little stories from my dad that my prababka (great grandmother) had told him, which inspired this. I hope it's okay... translation of certain words at the end. It needs a lot of work... Sorry for the length!
________________

He ended their relationship in a message left on her answering machine. Kazimiera woke up to it, the blanket pulled up to her chin, Gabryel’s voice erupting from the small holes of the machine’s speaker. It carried down the hallway and into her room, his thick accent coating the words that slipped under the door.
“Kazia, we’ve known each other for a long time. We’ve both been through a lot together, and I’ve been trying very hard to make this work. I’m sure you have been too.”
She slipped her feet out from under the blanket, dropping her toes to the floor and reaching for her bathrobe. The message continued, his voicing crackling static.
“But last night was just too much, misia. It’s just… all too much, right now.”
Her bedroom door sang a miserable song as she opened it. She could feel a white flare of fury at every syllable he spoke, sucking through all the valves and capillaries in her chest, but she managed to keep it underneath the surface. Her fingers flexed as she walked past the answering machine, her cool palm pushing open the kitchen door; her movements were serene and the fiery licks of rage managed to only skirt along her thoughts.
“It’s over, Kazia. It’s been over for a while. But I’m saying it aloud now. You can’t ignore it this time. We’re over.”
Gabryel’s sigh hummed over the speaker. She tilted her head, waiting for what he would say next as she let two crumb-laced pieces of bread fall into the toaster. The anger simmered in her bones, but her skin remained as cold as the winter lake. The hairs on her arm prickled and stood. Breakfast, this goal, was helping to keep the fire under her skin.
Nie, Kazia. No more. I’ve… I have to go to work now. Goodbye.”
The message crinkled like crisp paper. The click as he disconnected was followed by a keening silence. It filled her small apartment, settling around the peeling wallpaper in the corners, sizzling as it coasted along her skin.
Kazimiera sliced the knife into the butter, watching with a great intensity as the flaky yellow block was split in two. The toaster hissed and popped.
Gowna, Gabryel,” she murmured, her voice clipped and sharp. “This is not over.”
The silence seemed to disagree with her. It closed in on her; she gripped her hands tightly on the kitchen counter.
Tch, tch, tch.
Gently, from down the front hallway, there came a muffled scratching noise. Her head snapped up and she felt her senses focus, her body drifting through the kitchen. It came again, once more – a faint scratching on the front doorframe, three strokes along the wood before the silence settled back in. Then, a moment later, a faint scampering sound of departure and the click of nails on the tile floor.
It sounded like an animal, a misplaced noise. She approached her door, poised nervously on the balls of her feet, her fingers folding over the doorknob with a hesitance. A strange biting cold seemed to come from the hall, and it filled her mouth as she inhaled. She briefly contemplated calling the landlord before checking for herself, but curiosity turned the knob and creaked the door open a sliver.
The light from the hallway slipped into her apartment. With caution in mind, she peeped her face around the door, her eyes wide and flitting in every direction as soon as she had both feet between the frames. She didn’t need to search for long.
In front of her toes was a large handbasket. Woven out of dark, thin wooden strips that frayed like twine, it had a wide handle that swooped over it, spiraling and connected to the basket with thick knots. The contents of the basket were hidden; a gray cloth was draped over them. Whatever was inside was smooth, the ends of the cloth fluttering an inch above the ground.
The smell of cooked meat was in her nostrils. It was tangy, and it stung.
She remembered the animal. Her gaze jaunted down each end of the hallway, finding no living thing but the potted plant. She did spot something though – three long scratches in the wood paneling of her doorframe beside her. Running her fingers into the grooves, her heart began to putter in her throat. The scratches were as high up as her shoulders.
What had been in the hallway? At her door?
Her attention turned back to the handbasket. She knelt down, her sweatpants sticking to her legs and bunching up behind her knees. The basket had to be for her. It was left right in front of her door, after all. She wondered, fleetingly, if it had something to do with Gabryel.
Reaching out, her fingers traced the weaving of the handle. Hand trailing downward, she took the hem of the gray cloth between her fingertips, meaning to see what was underneath; she hesitated, feeling a thick swelling of anxiety in her stomach, and a strange hum in her limbs as if she were touching something electric. It radiated from her bones and an insane worry struck her, an uneasiness that tore through her thoughts.
She attempted to move away, retreat into her apartment, but curiosity snapped her back and in one quick motion, she lifted up the gray cloth and peered inside the basket.
Hell reached out and touched all of her senses.
The hallway disappeared from around her. The searing scent of burning flesh crawled into her nose, and it felt as if ash filled her throat, the flakes making her cough and gag. Images cast in shadow and the halo of firelight singed her eyes: a sin, murder, blood draining from a human body and the crimson staining the clothes of the killer; gray skin, flecked with scales, yellow fingernails scrambling over rocks, blushing pink around the irritated and curling cuticles. Her ears were wrought with shrieks, the voices all knowing her name; they moaned it, their throats gurgling a wet sound that bubbled and rasped.
She felt arms inky black as absolute dark crawling toward her, the fingers sprawled and scrambling. They pinched at her sweat pants, and beyond them she sensed faces, leering, gaping faces that meant to swallow her and taste all the sinewy constructs of her body.
But outside all of these sights, there was the gray cloth that covered them. A surviving voice inside of her screeched:
Let go, loosen your grip, escape!
The message traveled from her brain and she felt her fingers fall from the cloth. The instant the gray cover was out of her touch and fluttered back over the contents of the basket, all of the images, the sounds, the smells, left her in a confusing flash. The hallway returned, the smell of linoleum and sweat and laundry filters with it.
Kazimiera instinctively recoiled from the handbasket, her back smacking hard into her doorframe, her legs kicking and her hands pushing her body backwards. Her breath was coming in quick bursts, her heart jammed high up in her throat as tears welled in the corners of her eyes. She heard animal noises and realized they were coming from her own throat, whines and squeaking gasps.
Her eyes, barely contained inside her skull, searched the hallway. No one was there, no one had seen this. Crawling back into her apartment, she laid on the carpet of her foyer, kicking her door shut behind her.
She lay still for several minutes, collecting her breaths, running her palms over her damp cheeks. Slowly she climbed to her knees, then rose onto her feet, her thoughts just as unstable as her balance. She pinched and twisted her skin, but she knew she was awake.
That thing, that thing, outside of her doorway had been left there for her. But by who? Or by what? She didn’t know what to do with it, frightened to touch it again. Yet if she left it in the hall, no one else would touch it, knowing it was hers, and it would remain there until the landlady told her to take it inside.
Briefly, thoughts of kicking the handbasket over onto her neighbor’s doormat came into her head, vanishing when she turned to face the whole of her apartment.
Strewn between the facets of her apartment, Gabryel was everywhere. Sprawled on her kitchen chair, eating cereal, walking through the hallway door, his hair a mess, a bathrobe loosely tied around him. His hands had touched most of the furniture she owned; she imagined the vile prints of grease off his fingertips mottled all over her counters. A feeling of disgust bubbled up inside her throat.
She knew then, what she had to do.
She felt her fear part from her, evaporate, escape from the cutting brilliance of the sudden clarity that she had reached upon seeing her memories of him. Her hands fluttered nervous, excited, in the air. Time slowed as the calmness of her revelation, churning in her stomach like desire, sank into her bones and allowed her to walk on clammy feet to her bedroom. She dressed, her movements mechanized as her thoughts soared far from her body. She slid on her winter coat, her leather gloves, her leather purse.
There was no fright startling the beats of her heart as she padded down her foyer, slowly opening her front door. The handbasket was still there, harmless in appearance. It was as bland as the constructs of the hallway, and the horror of only several minutes ago seemed impossible.
But Kazimiera trusted herself.
She knelt down, her fingers touching the weaving of the basket again. This time, she knew what to do. This time, she knew what she was handling. Reverently, she picked up the handbasket, lifting it up to her face but careful not to disturb the gray cloth concealing the contents. It felt as if there was nothing inside, the basket as light as a stick of straw, though it was woven of hundreds.
Shuffling the apartment key out of her pocket, she turned and locked the door behind her, holding the basket firmly by her side. A destination set solid in her mind, she exited the apartment.
Her heels clicked along the sidewalk, and she shuffled through the sprinkling of people along the city maze. None of the individuals brushing against her suspected anything more than cheap dollar store goods in that delicately woven basket gripped in her hands. There was nothing to suspect from this small woman with her goods, who met no one’s eyes, her focus straight ahead and glazed with images of death and other secret things.
The small café was crammed, sighing and small, between a bookstore and a filthy apartment building. Kazimiera could smell the éclairs, the bad coffee, and the sweat of the crumb-covered employees. But there was only one employee there she had any interest in.
Gabryel was wrapped in the green apron of the café’s workers, the cloth stained with russet blotches. He was wiping off one of the tables outside of the building, customers sitting cross-legged around him, eating their pastries, sipping at their cappuccinos, oblivious to the world. His face was spotted with fatigue, but he still looked well, his eyes bright, his movements lively as he moved from one table to another.
She stood on the sidewalk, cradling the handbasket, glaring at him and all his health, his well-off disposition; he should be decayed, unkempt, without her. She wanted his face to be creased with stress lines, his limbs cracking from stiffness, his entire being not functioning without her presence.
Without her, it should be hell.
Her face blank as the tabletops, she approached him. He noticed her as he paused to tuck a washcloth into his apron; he froze, only his mouth moving without sound. She could see the nervous sprint his eyes made, to her face, to the ground, to the basket. She imagined her expression must be unsettling. A small smile curled the corners of her lips.
Witaj, Gabryel,” she said, her body static between the café tables.
“Kazia?” He stood up straight, looking wary as he gave her a brittle smile.
She stroked the handle of the basket, feeling the weaving of the wood strips, the fraying lashes; the magnetic pull of the horror inside made her stomach flex but she now knew of alternative delights to this evil thing left for her use, and she smiled at him.
“I brought something for you.” She lifted the handbasket up, pressing it against her breast, feeling the pulse of her intent move through her. This was the time for him to beg. In this moment, he needed to fall onto his knees and grab at her coat, tear his heart out for her in apology, blubber for her to come back to him after he made such a foolish mistake. If only he would do this, she could spare him from what she knew she had to do.
“You can’t be here, Kazia,” was what he said though, turning from her. “I have to work. If you want to talk, then you can come by my place later.”
Her blood boiled black. She felt her mouth tic, and her arms slowly moved forward, presenting him with her gift.
“At least take this, misiu,” she said, her voice cracking, her eyes wide with what he perceived as despair though it was something much more vicious. Gabryel sighed, looking inside for his manager, turning back again to see the frailty of her appearance as she offered her gift out to him.
“Alright. I’ll take it,” he said, holding his hands out. “And I’ll talk to you later… Kazia.”
She beamed as he took the handbasket from her, her cheeks flushed a pleasant pink. He couldn’t help but smile back.
With that last sight of him, she turned around and headed out onto the sidewalk, every footstep making her smile wider, making her boiling blood burn her insides with vindication.
She hadn’t quite made it past the yellowing dissolute apartment building when she heard his gurgling shriek, rife with the sound of demonic beings unraveling his throat. Her hands jerked upward in glee as people in the streets turned to look, panic blooming on their faces. She kept walking through the needling chaos, walking with bouncing steps back to her apartment.
Kazimiera took off her coat, her purse, her gloves, sinking down to the ground by her answering machine, her wiggling fingers gliding over the buttons and pushing recent messages. His last message began to play, and she leaned on his words as shaking rolls of laughter trembled through her limbs, her eyes tearing up, her voice ripped with sheer delight.
Amidst her peeling laughs, she wrapped her hands around the answering machine, tearing out his voice just like the bloodied creatures had done; it quit sounding as it unplugged, but she could still hear it in her head, circling with its cruelty toward her, circling and circling.
She clutched the machine to her stomach, still giggling with her unhinged joy. She walked past her coat, her gloves, her purse, moved down into the hallway with her artifact and his voice forever on loop in her head. She stepped out into the street, her feet clapping on the wet pavement as she drifted.
And Hell matched her steps.


____________________
- Misia/misiu Polish pet name, like the English “honey” or “sugar”. Means teddy bear.
- Nie No.
- Gowna Shit.
- Witaj Hello
How am I not myself?
  





Random avatar


Gender: Male
Points: 1590
Reviews: 10
Mon Aug 18, 2008 4:59 am
NigelAkaAlex says...



Hey there. Really enjoyed this one. You knocked it out of the park.

the fiery licks of rage managed to only skirt along her thoughts.

You use fire as a metaphor a few times in the story. Under normal circumstances this would be a bad thing, but with the Hell imagery you use it just proves very apt. Bravo.

It sounded like an animal, a misplaced noise.

To me this seems like two different trains of thought. I could be completely wrong, and probably am (you are much better at this than I) but I think this might work better as two sentences, or connected with a semi-colon.

And Hell matched her steps.

Nice line....

I'm disappointed that I have nothing further to contribute, but I really just love what you did with this story. You really did not let me down in any way. Keep at it.
Even with the rest belated
Everything is antiquated
Are you writing from the heart?
Are you writing from the heart?
~more than happy to take a look at your work
  





User avatar
369 Reviews



Gender: Male
Points: 15698
Reviews: 369
Mon Aug 18, 2008 7:57 pm
Conrad Rice says...



Well, now I know a Polish swear word, ha ha ha. To get to the critiquing part now. I honestly can't see a lot wrong with your story. I liked when whatever left the basket on Kazimeira's doorstep left scratches on her door. You might consider illuminating just what it is Kazi and Gabryel are splitting up over. Doing that might put Kazi's actions into context. As it is, we just assume that she's in the right. In a story like this, a little doubt can really mess with the readers, in a good way. Kazi's reaction to looking into the basket herself is superb, and the best part of the whole story.

The only thing I can really pick at is after Kazi gives Gabryel the basket. It doesn't seem like there's a strong enough description of what's happening. Can the people around Gabryel see what's happening to him, as far as what Hell is doing to him, or does it seem to them like he's having a seizure or something like that? And this is where description of the problems between Kazi and Gabryel will help you out. If we know just what has happened between the two of them, then Kazi's reaction to what she has done to Gabryel will have some context. As it is now, they just broke up. To me, that's not enough of a reason to do something like that to someone. Flesh out their relationship, and then we'll know if Gabryel deserved it, or if Kazi's just being an immature and vindictive person.

Hope this helps you out. PM me if you have any questions. And look me up again whenever you need another review.
Garrus Vakarian is my homeboy.
  





User avatar
695 Reviews



Gender: Female
Points: 2242
Reviews: 695
Mon Aug 18, 2008 9:06 pm
Angel of Death says...



Hey Clog!!

I really enjoyed your story and the names and the weaving of Polish words makes this story even more beautiful. The way you made us see Kazi's emotions after Gabryel broke up with her was fantastic. When I read that, I felt sorry for her until she decided to give the basket to him. I agree with Conrad, flesh out the relationship, give the readers a reason why she would give him the basket other than the obvious reasons. I mean I can understand that she was upset but what she did makes her seem childish. So just give us a little more info and this will be more great than this already is.
True love, in all it’s celestial charm, and
star-crossed ways, only exist in a writer’s
mind, for humans have not yet learned
how to manifest it.
  





User avatar
277 Reviews



Gender: Male
Points: 6070
Reviews: 277
Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:01 pm
Black Ghost says...



He ended their relationship in a message left on her answering machine. Kazimiera woke up to it, the blanket pulled up to her chin, Gabryel’s voice erupting from the small holes of the machine’s speaker. It carried down the hallway and into her room, his thick accent coating the words that slipped under the door.

I don't think accents coat words as much as they do fluctuate them? I'm not exactly sure what other word you could use, but coat doesn't seem to fit exactly right.

“Kazia, we’ve known each other for a long time. We’ve both been through a lot together, and I’ve been trying very hard to make this work. I’m sure you have been too.”

She slipped her feet out from under the blanket, dropping her toes to the floor and reaching for her bathrobe. The message continued, his voicing crackling static.

His voice crackling 'with' static I think makes more sense.

“But last night was just too much, misia. It’s just… all too much, right now.”
Her bedroom door sang a miserable song as she opened it. She could feel a white flare of fury at every syllable he spoke, sucking through all the valves and capillaries in her chest, but she managed to keep it underneath the surface. Her fingers flexed as she walked past the answering machine, her cool palm pushing open the kitchen door; her movements were serene and the fiery licks of rage managed to only skirt along her thoughts.

I loved this paragraph. Your description is nothing short of sublime, and I love the way you portrayed the emotions she was feeling. Good stuff. ^_^

“It’s over, Kazia. It’s been over for a while. But I’m saying it aloud now. You can’t ignore it this time. We’re over.”
Gabryel’s sigh hummed over the speaker. She tilted her head, waiting for what he would say next as she let two crumb-laced pieces of bread fall into the toaster. The anger simmered in her bones, but her skin remained as cold as the winter lake. The hairs on her arm prickled and stood. Breakfast, this goal, was helping to keep the fire under her skin.

Would his sigh really hum? I know you're trying to go for creative description, and about 99% of the time they're awesome, but this one seems not to work too well.

Also, I didn't quite understand the "Breakfast, this goal" part. What does that mean exactly?

Nie, Kazia. No more. I’ve… I have to go to work now. Goodbye.”

The message crinkled like crisp paper. The click as he disconnected was followed by a keening silence. It filled her small apartment, settling around the peeling wallpaper in the corners, sizzling as it coasted along her skin.

Kazimiera sliced the knife into the butter, watching with a great intensity as the flaky yellow block was split in two. The toaster hissed and popped.

Gowna, Gabryel,” she murmured, her voice clipped and sharp. “This is not over.”

The silence seemed to disagree with her. It closed in on her; she gripped her hands tightly on the kitchen counter.

Tch, tch, tch.

Gently, from down the front hallway, there came a muffled scratching noise. Her head snapped up and she felt her senses focus, her body drifting through the kitchen. It came again, once more – a faint scratching on the front doorframe, three strokes along the wood before the silence settled back in. Then, a moment later, a faint scampering sound of departure and the click of nails on the tile floor.

It sounded like an animal, a misplaced noise. She approached her door, poised nervously on the balls of her feet, her fingers folding over the doorknob with a hesitance. A strange biting cold seemed to come from the hall, and it filled her mouth as she inhaled. She briefly contemplated calling the landlord before checking for herself, but curiosity turned the knob and creaked the door open a sliver.

In the first sentence, you go from something specific (animal) to something vague (noise), which when you think about it, doesn't make much sense, and it also seems a bit jarring when you read it. I would change it to either just an animal sound or a noise, but not both.

The light from the hallway slipped into her apartment. With caution in mind, she peeped her face around the door, her eyes wide and flitting in every direction as soon as she had both feet between the frames. She didn’t need to search for long.

In the last sentence, you say it as if she knew she wasn't going to search for long. It would make more sense to say 'She didn't search for long.' It sounds more in the present this way, if that makes any sense. :)

In front of her toes was a large handbasket. Woven out of dark, thin wooden strips that frayed like twine, it had a wide handle that swooped over it, spiraling and connected to the basket with thick knots. The contents of the basket were hidden; a gray cloth was draped over them. Whatever was inside was smooth, the ends of the cloth fluttering an inch above the ground.

The smell of cooked meat was in her nostrils. It was tangy, and it stung.

She remembered the animal. Her gaze jaunted down each end of the hallway, finding no living thing but the potted plant. She did spot something though – three long scratches in the wood paneling of her doorframe beside her. Running her fingers into the grooves, her heart began to putter in her throat. The scratches were as high up as her shoulders.

What had been in the hallway? At her door?

Her attention turned back to the handbasket. She knelt down, her sweatpants sticking to her legs and bunching up behind her knees. The basket had to be for her. It was left right in front of her door, after all. She wondered, fleetingly, if it had something to do with Gabryel.

Reaching out, her fingers traced the weaving of the handle. Hand trailing downward, she took the hem of the gray cloth between her fingertips, meaning to see what was underneath; she hesitated, feeling a thick swelling of anxiety in her stomach, and a strange hum in her limbs as if she were touching something electric. It radiated from her bones and an insane worry struck her, an uneasiness that tore through her thoughts.

She attempted to move away, retreat into her apartment, but curiosity snapped her back and in one quick motion, she lifted up the gray cloth and peered inside the basket.

Hell reached out and touched all of her senses.

I loved this line. ^_^

The hallway disappeared from around her. The searing scent of burning flesh crawled into her nose, and it felt as if ash filled her throat, the flakes making her cough and gag. Images cast in shadow and the halo of firelight singed her eyes: a sin, murder, blood draining from a human body and the crimson staining the clothes of the killer; gray skin, flecked with scales, yellow fingernails scrambling over rocks, blushing pink around the irritated and curling cuticles. Her ears were wrought with shrieks, the voices all knowing her name; they moaned it, their throats gurgling a wet sound that bubbled and rasped.

She felt arms inky black as absolute dark crawling toward her, the fingers sprawled and scrambling. They pinched at her sweat pants, and beyond them she sensed faces, leering, gaping faces that meant to swallow her and taste all the sinewy constructs of her body.

But outside all of these sights, there was the gray cloth that covered them. A surviving voice inside of her screeched:

Let go, loosen your grip, escape!

The message traveled from her brain and she felt her fingers fall from the cloth. The instant the gray cover was out of her touch and fluttered back over the contents of the basket, all of the images, the sounds, the smells, left her in a confusing flash. The hallway returned, the smell of linoleum and sweat and laundry filters with it.

Kazimiera instinctively recoiled from the handbasket, her back smacking hard into her doorframe, her legs kicking and her hands pushing her body backwards. Her breath was coming in quick bursts, her heart jammed high up in her throat as tears welled in the corners of her eyes. She heard animal noises and realized they were coming from her own throat, whines and squeaking gasps.

Her eyes, barely contained inside her skull, searched the hallway. No one was there, no one had seen this. Crawling back into her apartment, she laid on the carpet of her foyer, kicking her door shut behind her.

She lay still for several minutes, collecting her breaths, running her palms over her damp cheeks. Slowly she climbed to her knees, then rose onto her feet, her thoughts just as unstable as her balance. She pinched and twisted her skin, but she knew she was awake.

That thing, that thing, outside of her doorway had been left there for her. But by who? Or by what? She didn’t know what to do with it, frightened to touch it again. Yet if she left it in the hall, no one else would touch it, knowing it was hers, and it would remain there until the landlady told her to take it inside.

Briefly, thoughts of kicking the handbasket over onto her neighbor’s doormat came into her head, vanishing when she turned to face the whole of her apartment.

Strewn between the facets of her apartment, Gabryel was everywhere. Sprawled on her kitchen chair, eating cereal, walking through the hallway door, his hair a mess, a bathrobe loosely tied around him. His hands had touched most of the furniture she owned; she imagined the vile prints of grease off his fingertips mottled all over her counters. A feeling of disgust bubbled up inside her throat.

She knew then, what she had to do.

She felt her fear part from her, evaporate, escape from the cutting brilliance of the sudden clarity that she had reached upon seeing her memories of him. Her hands fluttered nervous, excited, in the air. Time slowed as the calmness of her revelation, churning in her stomach like desire, sank into her bones and allowed her to walk on clammy feet to her bedroom. She dressed, her movements mechanized as her thoughts soared far from her body. She slid on her winter coat, her leather gloves, her leather purse.

There was no fright startling the beats of her heart as she padded down her foyer, slowly opening her front door. The handbasket was still there, harmless in appearance. It was as bland as the constructs of the hallway, and the horror of only several minutes ago seemed impossible.

But Kazimiera trusted herself.

She knelt down, her fingers touching the weaving of the basket again. This time, she knew what to do. This time, she knew what she was handling. Reverently, she picked up the handbasket, lifting it up to her face but careful not to disturb the gray cloth concealing the contents. It felt as if there was nothing inside, the basket as light as a stick of straw, though it was woven of hundreds.

Shuffling the apartment key out of her pocket, she turned and locked the door behind her, holding the basket firmly by her side. A destination set solid in her mind, she exited the apartment.

Her heels clicked along the sidewalk, and she shuffled through the sprinkling of people along the city maze. None of the individuals brushing against her suspected anything more than cheap dollar store goods in that delicately woven basket gripped in her hands. There was nothing to suspect from this small woman with her goods, who met no one’s eyes, her focus straight ahead and glazed with images of death and other secret things.

The small café was crammed, sighing and small, between a bookstore and a filthy apartment building. Kazimiera could smell the éclairs, the bad coffee, and the sweat of the crumb-covered employees. But there was only one employee there she had any interest in.

Gabryel was wrapped in the green apron of the café’s workers, the cloth stained with russet blotches. He was wiping off one of the tables outside of the building, customers sitting cross-legged around him, eating their pastries, sipping at their cappuccinos, oblivious to the world. His face was spotted with fatigue, but he still looked well, his eyes bright, his movements lively as he moved from one table to another.

She stood on the sidewalk, cradling the handbasket, glaring at him and all his health, his well-off disposition; he should be decayed, unkempt, without her. She wanted his face to be creased with stress lines, his limbs cracking from stiffness, his entire being not functioning without her presence.

Without her, it should be hell.

Her face blank as the tabletops, she approached him. He noticed her as he paused to tuck a washcloth into his apron; he froze, only his mouth moving without sound. She could see the nervous sprint his eyes made, to her face, to the ground, to the basket. She imagined her expression must be unsettling. A small smile curled the corners of her lips.

Witaj, Gabryel,” she said, her body static between the café tables.

“Kazia?” He stood up straight, looking wary as he gave her a brittle smile.

She stroked the handle of the basket, feeling the weaving of the wood strips, the fraying lashes; the magnetic pull of the horror inside made her stomach flex but she now knew of alternative delights to this evil thing left for her use, and she smiled at him.

“I brought something for you.” She lifted the handbasket up, pressing it against her breast, feeling the pulse of her intent move through her. This was the time for him to beg. In this moment, he needed to fall onto his knees and grab at her coat, tear his heart out for her in apology, blubber for her to come back to him after he made such a foolish mistake. If only he would do this, she could spare him from what she knew she had to do.

“You can’t be here, Kazia,” was what he said though, turning from her. “I have to work. If you want to talk, then you can come by my place later.”

Her blood boiled black. She felt her mouth tic, and her arms slowly moved forward, presenting him with her gift.

“At least take this, misiu,” she said, her voice cracking, her eyes wide with what he perceived as despair though it was something much more vicious. Gabryel sighed, looking inside for his manager, turning back again to see the frailty of her appearance as she offered her gift out to him.

“Alright. I’ll take it,” he said, holding his hands out. “And I’ll talk to you later… Kazia.”

She beamed as he took the handbasket from her, her cheeks flushed a pleasant pink. He couldn’t help but smile back.

With that last sight of him, she turned around and headed out onto the sidewalk, every footstep making her smile wider, making her boiling blood burn her insides with vindication.

She hadn’t quite made it past the yellowing dissolute apartment building when she heard his gurgling shriek, rife with the sound of demonic beings unraveling his throat. Her hands jerked upward in glee as people in the streets turned to look, panic blooming on their faces. She kept walking through the needling chaos, walking with bouncing steps back to her apartment.

Kazimiera took off her coat, her purse, her gloves, sinking down to the ground by her answering machine, her wiggling fingers gliding over the buttons and pushing recent messages. His last message began to play, and she leaned on his words as shaking rolls of laughter trembled through her limbs, her eyes tearing up, her voice ripped with sheer delight.

Amidst her peeling laughs, she wrapped her hands around the answering machine, tearing out his voice just like the bloodied creatures had done; it quit sounding as it unplugged, but she could still hear it in her head, circling with its cruelty toward her, circling and circling.

She clutched the machine to her stomach, still giggling with her unhinged joy. She walked past her coat, her gloves, her purse, moved down into the hallway with her artifact and his voice forever on loop in her head. She stepped out into the street, her feet clapping on the wet pavement as she drifted.

And Hell matched her steps.


____________________
- Misia/misiu Polish pet name, like the English “honey” or “sugar”. Means teddy bear.
- Nie No.
- Gowna Shit.
- Witaj Hello
  





User avatar
277 Reviews



Gender: Male
Points: 6070
Reviews: 277
Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:40 pm
Black Ghost says...



He ended their relationship in a message left on her answering machine. Kazimiera woke up to it, the blanket pulled up to her chin, Gabryel’s voice erupting from the small holes of the machine’s speaker. It carried down the hallway and into her room, his thick accent coating the words that slipped under the door.

I don't think accents coat words as much as they do fluctuate them? I'm not exactly sure what other word you could use, but coat doesn't seem to fit exactly right.

“Kazia, we’ve known each other for a long time. We’ve both been through a lot together, and I’ve been trying very hard to make this work. I’m sure you have been too.”

She slipped her feet out from under the blanket, dropping her toes to the floor and reaching for her bathrobe. The message continued, his voicing crackling static.

His voice crackling 'with' static I think makes more sense.

“But last night was just too much, misia. It’s just… all too much, right now.”
Her bedroom door sang a miserable song as she opened it. She could feel a white flare of fury at every syllable he spoke, sucking through all the valves and capillaries in her chest, but she managed to keep it underneath the surface. Her fingers flexed as she walked past the answering machine, her cool palm pushing open the kitchen door; her movements were serene and the fiery licks of rage managed to only skirt along her thoughts.

I loved this paragraph. Your description is nothing short of sublime, and I love the way you portrayed the emotions she was feeling. Good stuff. ^_^

“It’s over, Kazia. It’s been over for a while. But I’m saying it aloud now. You can’t ignore it this time. We’re over.”
Gabryel’s sigh hummed over the speaker. She tilted her head, waiting for what he would say next as she let two crumb-laced pieces of bread fall into the toaster. The anger simmered in her bones, but her skin remained as cold as the winter lake. The hairs on her arm prickled and stood. Breakfast, this goal, was helping to keep the fire under her skin.

Would his sigh really hum? I know you're trying to go for creative description, and about 99% of the time they're awesome, but this one seems not to work too well.

Also, I didn't quite understand the "Breakfast, this goal" part. What does that mean exactly?

Nie, Kazia. No more. I’ve… I have to go to work now. Goodbye.”

The message crinkled like crisp paper. The click as he disconnected was followed by a keening silence. It filled her small apartment, settling around the peeling wallpaper in the corners, sizzling as it coasted along her skin.

Kazimiera sliced the knife into the butter, watching with a great intensity as the flaky yellow block was split in two. The toaster hissed and popped.

Gowna, Gabryel,” she murmured, her voice clipped and sharp. “This is not over.”

The silence seemed to disagree with her. It closed in on her; she gripped her hands tightly on the kitchen counter.

Tch, tch, tch.

Gently, from down the front hallway, there came a muffled scratching noise. Her head snapped up and she felt her senses focus, her body drifting through the kitchen. It came again, once more – a faint scratching on the front doorframe, three strokes along the wood before the silence settled back in. Then, a moment later, a faint scampering sound of departure and the click of nails on the tile floor.

It sounded like an animal, a misplaced noise. She approached her door, poised nervously on the balls of her feet, her fingers folding over the doorknob with a hesitance. A strange biting cold seemed to come from the hall, and it filled her mouth as she inhaled. She briefly contemplated calling the landlord before checking for herself, but curiosity turned the knob and creaked the door open a sliver.

The light from the hallway slipped into her apartment. With caution in mind, she peeped her face around the door, her eyes wide and flitting in every direction as soon as she had both feet between the frames. She didn’t need to search for long.

In front of her toes was a large handbasket. Woven out of dark, thin wooden strips that frayed like twine, it had a wide handle that swooped over it, spiraling and connected to the basket with thick knots. The contents of the basket were hidden; a gray cloth was draped over them. Whatever was inside was smooth, the ends of the cloth fluttering an inch above the ground.

The smell of cooked meat was in her nostrils. It was tangy, and it stung.

She remembered the animal. Her gaze jaunted down each end of the hallway, finding no living thing but the potted plant. She did spot something though – three long scratches in the wood paneling of her doorframe beside her. Running her fingers into the grooves, her heart began to putter in her throat. The scratches were as high up as her shoulders.

What had been in the hallway? At her door?

Her attention turned back to the handbasket. She knelt down, her sweatpants sticking to her legs and bunching up behind her knees. The basket had to be for her. It was left right in front of her door, after all. She wondered, fleetingly, if it had something to do with Gabryel.

Reaching out, her fingers traced the weaving of the handle. Hand trailing downward, she took the hem of the gray cloth between her fingertips, meaning to see what was underneath; she hesitated, feeling a thick swelling of anxiety in her stomach, and a strange hum in her limbs as if she were touching something electric. It radiated from her bones and an insane worry struck her, an uneasiness that tore through her thoughts.

She attempted to move away, retreat into her apartment, but curiosity snapped her back and in one quick motion, she lifted up the gray cloth and peered inside the basket.

Hell reached out and touched all of her senses.

I loved this line. ^_^

One thing though. If she had just seen some kind of huge animal scratches on the wall, she better have had a pretty good reason to want to look inside that basket instead of just shutting the door and calling someone. Curiosity seems like a weak reason to me.


The hallway disappeared from around her. The searing scent of burning flesh crawled into her nose, and it felt as if ash filled her throat, the flakes making her cough and gag. Images cast in shadow and the halo of firelight singed her eyes: a sin, murder, blood draining from a human body and the crimson staining the clothes of the killer; gray skin, flecked with scales, yellow fingernails scrambling over rocks, blushing pink around the irritated and curling cuticles. Her ears were wrought with shrieks, the voices all knowing her name; they moaned it, their throats gurgling a wet sound that bubbled and rasped.

She felt arms inky black as absolute dark crawling toward her, the fingers sprawled and scrambling. They pinched at her sweat pants, and beyond them she sensed faces, leering, gaping faces that meant to swallow her and taste all the sinewy constructs of her body.

But outside all of these sights, there was the gray cloth that covered them. A surviving voice inside of her screeched:

Let go, loosen your grip, escape!

The message traveled from her brain and she felt her fingers fall from the cloth. The instant the gray cover was out of her touch and fluttered back over the contents of the basket, all of the images, the sounds, the smells, left her in a confusing flash. The hallway returned, the smell of linoleum and sweat and laundry filters with it.

Kazimiera instinctively recoiled from the handbasket, her back smacking hard into her doorframe, her legs kicking and her hands pushing her body backwards. Her breath was coming in quick bursts, her heart jammed high up in her throat as tears welled in the corners of her eyes. She heard animal noises and realized they were coming from her own throat, whines and squeaking gasps.

Her eyes, barely contained inside her skull, searched the hallway. No one was there, no one had seen this. Crawling back into her apartment, she laid on the carpet of her foyer, kicking her door shut behind her.

She lay still for several minutes, collecting her breaths, running her palms over her damp cheeks. Slowly she climbed to her knees, then rose onto her feet, her thoughts just as unstable as her balance. She pinched and twisted her skin, but she knew she was awake.

That thing, that thing, outside of her doorway had been left there for her. But by who? Or by what? She didn’t know what to do with it, frightened to touch it again. Yet if she left it in the hall, no one else would touch it, knowing it was hers, and it would remain there until the landlady told her to take it inside.

Briefly, thoughts of kicking the handbasket over onto her neighbor’s doormat came into her head, vanishing when she turned to face the whole of her apartment.

Strewn between the facets of her apartment, Gabryel was everywhere. Sprawled on her kitchen chair, eating cereal, walking through the hallway door, his hair a mess, a bathrobe loosely tied around him. His hands had touched most of the furniture she owned; she imagined the vile prints of grease off his fingertips mottled all over her counters. A feeling of disgust bubbled up inside her throat.

She knew then, what she had to do.

She felt her fear part from her, evaporate, escape from the cutting brilliance of the sudden clarity that she had reached upon seeing her memories of him. Her hands fluttered nervous, excited, in the air. Time slowed as the calmness of her revelation, churning in her stomach like desire, sank into her bones and allowed her to walk on clammy feet to her bedroom. She dressed, her movements mechanized as her thoughts soared far from her body. She slid on her winter coat, her leather gloves, her leather purse.

There was no fright startling the beats of her heart as she padded down her foyer, slowly opening her front door. The handbasket was still there, harmless in appearance. It was as bland as the constructs of the hallway, and the horror of only several minutes ago seemed impossible.

But Kazimiera trusted herself.

She knelt down, her fingers touching the weaving of the basket again. This time, she knew what to do. This time, she knew what she was handling. Reverently, she picked up the handbasket, lifting it up to her face but careful not to disturb the gray cloth concealing the contents. It felt as if there was nothing inside, the basket as light as a stick of straw, though it was woven of hundreds.

Shuffling the apartment key out of her pocket, she turned and locked the door behind her, holding the basket firmly by her side. A destination set solid in her mind, she exited the apartment.

Her heels clicked along the sidewalk, and she shuffled through the sprinkling of people along the city maze. None of the individuals brushing against her suspected anything more than cheap dollar store goods in that delicately woven basket gripped in her hands. There was nothing to suspect from this small woman with her goods, who met no one’s eyes, her focus straight ahead and glazed with images of death and other secret things.

The small café was crammed, sighing and small, between a bookstore and a filthy apartment building. Kazimiera could smell the éclairs, the bad coffee, and the sweat of the crumb-covered employees. But there was only one employee there she had any interest in.

Gabryel was wrapped in the green apron of the café’s workers, the cloth stained with russet blotches. He was wiping off one of the tables outside of the building, customers sitting cross-legged around him, eating their pastries, sipping at their cappuccinos, oblivious to the world. His face was spotted with fatigue, but he still looked well, his eyes bright, his movements lively as he moved from one table to another.

She stood on the sidewalk, cradling the handbasket, glaring at him and all his health, his well-off disposition; he should be decayed, unkempt, without her. She wanted his face to be creased with stress lines, his limbs cracking from stiffness, his entire being not functioning without her presence.

Without her, it should be hell.

Her face blank as the tabletops, she approached him. He noticed her as he paused to tuck a washcloth into his apron; he froze, only his mouth moving without sound. She could see the nervous sprint his eyes made, to her face, to the ground, to the basket. She imagined her expression must be unsettling. A small smile curled the corners of her lips.

Witaj, Gabryel,” she said, her body static between the café tables.

“Kazia?” He stood up straight, looking wary as he gave her a brittle smile.

She stroked the handle of the basket, feeling the weaving of the wood strips, the fraying lashes; the magnetic pull of the horror inside made her stomach flex but she now knew of alternative delights to this evil thing left for her use, and she smiled at him.

“I brought something for you.” She lifted the handbasket up, pressing it against her breast, feeling the pulse of her intent move through her. This was the time for him to beg. In this moment, he needed to fall onto his knees and grab at her coat, tear his heart out for her in apology, blubber for her to come back to him after he made such a foolish mistake. If only he would do this, she could spare him from what she knew she had to do.

“You can’t be here, Kazia,” was what he said though, turning from her. “I have to work. If you want to talk, then you can come by my place later.”

Her blood boiled black. She felt her mouth tic, and her arms slowly moved forward, presenting him with her gift.

“At least take this, misiu,” she said, her voice cracking, her eyes wide with what he perceived as despair though it was something much more vicious. Gabryel sighed, looking inside for his manager, turning back again to see the frailty of her appearance as she offered her gift out to him.

“Alright. I’ll take it,” he said, holding his hands out. “And I’ll talk to you later… Kazia.”

She beamed as he took the handbasket from her, her cheeks flushed a pleasant pink. He couldn’t help but smile back.

With that last sight of him, she turned around and headed out onto the sidewalk, every footstep making her smile wider, making her boiling blood burn her insides with vindication.

She hadn’t quite made it past the yellowing dissolute apartment building when she heard his gurgling shriek, rife with the sound of demonic beings unraveling his throat. Her hands jerked upward in glee as people in the streets turned to look, panic blooming on their faces. She kept walking through the needling chaos, walking with bouncing steps back to her apartment.

Kazimiera took off her coat, her purse, her gloves, sinking down to the ground by her answering machine, her wiggling fingers gliding over the buttons and pushing recent messages. His last message began to play, and she leaned on his words as shaking rolls of laughter trembled through her limbs, her eyes tearing up, her voice ripped with sheer delight.

Amidst her peeling laughs, she wrapped her hands around the answering machine, tearing out his voice just like the bloodied creatures had done; it quit sounding as it unplugged, but she could still hear it in her head, circling with its cruelty toward her, circling and circling.

She clutched the machine to her stomach, still giggling with her unhinged joy. She walked past her coat, her gloves, her purse, moved down into the hallway with her artifact and his voice forever on loop in her head. She stepped out into the street, her feet clapping on the wet pavement as she drifted.

And Hell matched her steps.


____________________
- Misia/misiu Polish pet name, like the English “honey” or “sugar”. Means teddy bear.
- Nie No.
- Gowna Shit.
- Witaj Hello


Interesting and well-paced story. ^_^ My only complaint was that her actions seemed a bit too harsh for what you've given us. What I mean is, a simple breakup wouldn't drive someone to give their ex some demonic hell simulator that will end up doing God knows what to them. Unless Gabryel had done something really horrible and deserving of that fate, I don't really feel that your MC's actions were justified, and it makes me dislike her for it. I mean, she turned straight out evil at the end. :shock:

Just consider that if your aiming to make her more likeable to the reader. :P



[s]BlackGhost[/s]
  





Random avatar


Gender: Male
Points: 1590
Reviews: 10
Wed Aug 20, 2008 4:12 am
NigelAkaAlex says...



Black Ghost wrote:Interesting and well-paced story. ^_^ My only complaint was that her actions seemed a bit too harsh for what you've given us. What I mean is, a simple breakup wouldn't drive someone to give their ex some demonic hell simulator that will end up doing God knows what to them. Unless Gabryel had done something really horrible and deserving of that fate, I don't really feel that your MC's actions were justified, and it makes me dislike her for it. I mean, she turned straight out evil at the end. :shock:

Just consider that if your aiming to make her more likeable to the reader. :P



[s]BlackGhost[/s]


Well I think that's the point. From the get go we can see that she's clearly disturbed and needy. After literally going to hell she just completely descends into madness.
Even with the rest belated
Everything is antiquated
Are you writing from the heart?
Are you writing from the heart?
~more than happy to take a look at your work
  





User avatar
2631 Reviews

Supporter


Gender: Female
Points: 5735
Reviews: 2631
Wed Aug 20, 2008 12:07 pm
Rydia says...



The hallway disappeared from around her. [This is a little awkward. Maybe 'The hallway disappeared around her' or 'The hallway around her disintegrated.'] The searing scent of burning flesh crawled into her nose, and it felt as if ash filled her throat, the flakes making her cough and gag. Images cast in shadow and the halo of firelight singed her eyes: a sin, murder, blood draining from a human body and the crimson staining the clothes of the killer; gray skin, flecked with scales, yellow fingernails scrambling over rocks, blushing pink around the irritated and curling cuticles. [This is a real run on sentence and it's a little confusing, a little too easy to get lost.] Her ears were wrought with shrieks, the voices all knowing her name; they moaned it, their throats gurgling a wet sound that bubbled and rasped. [Good description in this paragraph.]

She felt arms [A comma here perhaps.] inky black [And then another comma here.] as absolute dark [s]crawling[/s] crawled toward her, the fingers sprawled and scrambling. They pinched at her sweat pants, [I'd move this comma to after 'beyond them'.] and beyond them she sensed faces, leering, gaping faces that meant to swallow her and taste all the sinewy constructs of her body.

But outside all of these sights, there was the gray cloth that covered them. A surviving voice inside of her screeched:

Let go, loosen your grip, escape!

The message traveled from her brain and she felt her fingers fall from the cloth. The instant the gray cover was out of her touch and fluttered back over the contents of the basket, all of the images, the sounds, the smells, left her in a confusing flash. The hallway returned, the smell of linoleum and sweat and laundry filters with it.

Kazimiera instinctively recoiled from the handbasket, her back smacking hard into her door-frame, her legs kicking and her hands pushing her body backwards. Her breath was coming in quick bursts, her heart jammed high up in her throat as tears welled in the corners of her eyes. She heard animal noises and realized they were coming from her own throat, [Maybe a colon here?] whines and squeaking gasps.

Her eyes, barely contained inside her skull, searched the hallway. No one was there, no one had seen this. Crawling back into her apartment, she laid on the carpet of her foyer, kicking her door shut behind her.

She lay still for several minutes, collecting her breaths, running her palms over her damp cheeks. Slowly she climbed to her knees, then rose onto her feet, her thoughts just as unstable as her balance. She pinched and twisted her skin, but she knew she was awake.

That thing, that thing, outside of her doorway had been left there for her. But by who? Or by what? She didn’t know what to do with it, frightened to touch it again. Yet if she left it in the hall, no one else would touch it, knowing it was hers, and it would remain there until the landlady told her to take it inside.

Briefly, thoughts of kicking the handbasket over onto her neighbor’s doormat came into her head, vanishing when she turned to face the whole of her apartment.

Strewn between the facets of her apartment, Gabryel was everywhere. Sprawled on her kitchen chair, eating cereal, walking through the hallway door, his hair a mess, a bathrobe loosely tied around him. His hands had touched most of the furniture she owned; she imagined the vile prints of grease off his fingertips mottled all over her counters. A feeling of disgust bubbled up inside her throat. [You print a strong image in your reader's mind.]

She knew then, what she had to do.

She felt her fear part from her, evaporate, escape from the cutting brilliance of the sudden clarity that she had reached upon seeing her memories of him. Her hands fluttered nervous, excited, in the air. Time slowed as the calmness of her revelation, churning in her stomach like desire, sank into her bones and allowed her to walk on clammy feet to her bedroom. She dressed, her movements mechanized as her thoughts soared far from her body. She slid on her winter coat, her leather gloves, her leather purse.

There was no fright startling the beats of her heart as she padded down her foyer, slowly opening her front door. The handbasket was still there, harmless in appearance. It was as bland as the constructs of the hallway, and the horror of only several minutes ago seemed impossible.

But Kazimiera trusted herself.

She knelt down, her fingers touching the weaving of the basket again. This time, she knew what to do. This time, she knew what she was handling. Reverently, she picked up the handbasket, lifting it up to her face but careful not to disturb the gray cloth concealing the contents. It felt as if there was nothing inside, the basket as light as a stick of straw, though it was woven of hundreds.

Shuffling the apartment key out of her pocket, she turned and locked the door behind her, holding the basket firmly by her side. A destination set solid in her mind, she exited the apartment.

Her heels clicked along the sidewalk, and she shuffled through the sprinkling of people along the city maze. None of the individuals brushing against her suspected anything more than cheap dollar store goods in that delicately woven basket gripped in her hands. There was nothing to suspect from this small woman with her goods, who met no one’s eyes, her focus straight ahead and glazed with images of death and other secret things.

The small café was crammed, sighing and small, between a bookstore and a filthy apartment building. Kazimiera could smell the éclairs, the bad coffee, and the sweat of the crumb-covered employees. But there was only one employee there she had any interest in.

Gabryel was wrapped in the green apron of the café’s workers, the cloth stained with russet blotches. He was wiping off one of the tables outside of the building, customers sitting cross-legged around him, eating their pastries, sipping at their cappuccinos, oblivious to the world. His face was spotted with fatigue, but he still looked well, his eyes bright, his movements lively as he moved from one table to another. [I'm starting to get a little lost in your long and medium sentences. You need a little more variation, a couple of short sentences to break it up.]

She stood on the sidewalk, cradling the handbasket, glaring at him and all his health, his well-off disposition; he should be decayed, unkempt, without her. She wanted his face to be creased with stress lines, his limbs cracking from stiffness, his entire being not functioning without her presence.

Without her, it should be hell.

Her face blank as the tabletops, she approached him. He noticed her as he paused to tuck a washcloth into his apron; he froze, only his mouth moving without sound. She could see the nervous sprint his eyes made, to her face, to the ground, to the basket. She imagined her expression must be unsettling. A small smile curled the corners of her lips.

“Witaj, Gabryel,” she said, her body static between the café tables.

“Kazia?” He stood up straight, looking wary as he gave her a brittle smile.

She stroked the handle of the basket, feeling the weaving of the wood strips, the fraying lashes; the magnetic pull of the horror inside made her stomach flex but she now knew of alternative delights to this evil thing left for her use, and she smiled at him.

“I brought something for you.” She lifted the handbasket up, pressing it against her breast, feeling the pulse of her intent move through her. This was the time for him to beg. In this moment, he needed to fall onto his knees and grab at her coat, tear his heart out for her in apology, blubber for her to come back to him after he made such a foolish mistake. If only he would do this, she could spare him from what she knew she had to do. [This is unnecessarily wordy. Perhaps 'If only he would do this, she could spare him.']

“You can’t be here, Kazia,” was what he said though, turning from her. “I have to work. If you want to talk, then you can come by my place later.”

Her blood boiled black. She felt her mouth tic, and her arms slowly moved forward, presenting him with her gift.

“At least take this, misiu,” she said, her voice cracking, her eyes wide with what he perceived as despair though it was something much more vicious. Gabryel sighed, looking inside for his manager, turning back again to see the frailty of her appearance as she offered her gift out to him.

“Alright. I’ll take it,” he said, holding his hands out. “And I’ll talk to you later… Kazia.”

She beamed as he took the handbasket from her, her cheeks flushed a pleasant pink. He couldn’t help but smile back.

With that last sight of him, she turned around and headed out onto the sidewalk, every footstep making her smile wider, making her boiling blood burn her insides with vindication.

She hadn’t quite made it past the yellowing dissolute apartment building when she heard his gurgling shriek, rife with the sound of demonic beings unraveling his throat. Her hands jerked upward in glee as people in the streets turned to look, panic blooming on their faces. She kept walking through the needling chaos, walking with bouncing steps back to her apartment.

Kazimiera took off her coat, her purse, her gloves, sinking down to the ground by her answering machine, her wiggling fingers gliding over the buttons and pushing recent messages. His last message began to play, and she leaned on his words as shaking rolls of laughter trembled through her limbs, her eyes tearing up, her voice ripped with sheer delight.

[Maybe insert a little of the recorded message here? Only right now, the reader feels nothing for this man. The reader does not care if he lives or dies because you haven't shown enough of him that appeals to us.]

Amidst her peeling laughs, she wrapped her hands around the answering machine, tearing out his voice just like the bloodied creatures had done; it quit sounding as it unplugged, but she could still hear it in her head, circling with its cruelty toward her, circling and circling.

She clutched the machine to her stomach, still giggling with her unhinged joy. She walked past her coat, her gloves, her purse, moved down into the hallway with her artifact and his voice forever on loop in her head. She stepped out into the street, her feet clapping on the wet pavement as she drifted.

And Hell matched her steps. [Lovely ending.]
____________________

- Misia/misiu Polish pet name, like the English “honey” or “sugar”. Means teddy bear.

- Nie No.

- Gowna Shit.

Witaj Hello [Put these in order of appearance. Witaj should be first. Also, where did you use Gowna? I see it nowhere.]


[This is a pretty good short story as far as description and atmosphere go but there needs to be more characterization. I couldn't like or dislike either character and I didn't care about what happened to Gabryel. You need to leave your reader with either a sense of horror at what she has done or a guilty smugness at her revenge. Think about how you want your reader to feel during this. I suspect that you want them to be on edge and to be horrified but if so, you'll have to shorten one or two of the flowery sentences (not many though because they are absolutely lovely) and add some other short sentences. Also, most of your description is connected to sight. Try to consider the other senses too. It's much easier for a reader to place themselves into the story if they know what to smell, what to hear, what to feel and what to taste as well as what to see.

Perhaps extend this. Have flash-backs of her and Gabryel. Maybe show a little hesitation as she remembers good times with him. Show us that he's not such a bad guy. That he's pretty sweet and caring.

And as for what's in the basket, I think you should give the reader a few more little drops of information. Not all of your reader's have superb imaginations and the atmosphere isn't strong enough to drag their greatest fears out and place those in the basket.

Hope this helps a little. Feel free to pm me with questions,

Heather xx]
Writing Gooder

~Previously KittyKatSparklesExplosion15~

The light shines brightest in the darkest places.
  





User avatar
16 Reviews



Gender: Female
Points: 890
Reviews: 16
Thu Aug 21, 2008 12:05 am
xxfourthelement says...



Opening note: As a reader, especially an American one, I find the concept of Polish characters really interesting. American characters get boring.

Her bedroom door sang a miserable song as she opened it.


This sentence simply does not appeal to me as a reader. It seems a little repetitive. Find a more melodious verb than "sang", which is a little boring and makes your beautiful sentence ordinary.

A comment: Kazia doesn't seem very angry at all until you directly say how furious she is. It seems more like she's numb, with the way she slips her feet from under the covers and drops them to the floor. If you really want her to be angry, make her feet angry, too, not graceful! (And if she's feeling "a white flare of fury," maybe her palms shouldn't be cool.)

The best line so far is "The anger simmered in her bones, but her skin remained as cold as the winter lake." Poetic and beautiful.

Breakfast, this goal, was helping to keep the fire under her skin.


This sentence, I'm not so crazy about. I'm not even quite sure I understand the wording you used. I understood "to keep the fire under her skin," but not the first part. Make that more clear, more concise, unless you care for this to be an ambiguous story.

“Gowna, Gabryel,” she murmured, her voice clipped and sharp. “This is not over.”


Hmm. She's beginning to sound like a psychopath. Psychopaths are good. Psychopaths are excellent. Psychopaths make for interesting stories.

Oh, I do hope you intended her to sound like a psychopath.

It closed in on her; she gripped her hands tightly on the kitchen counter.


"She gripped her hands tightly on the kitchen counter" feels really awkward. If she's gripping with something other than her hands, we may have a problem. "She gripped the kitchen counter tightly" or "She clutched tightly on the kitchet counter" may work better.

It sounded like an animal, a misplaced noise.


This sentence feels like a run-on. It's not, but that's how it feels. It seems like "a misplaced noise" should stand alone as a clause in a different sentence. The sentence may feel better replaced with something like "It sounded like an animal, out of place in her empy apartment." That is, presuming she lives in an apartment. But "house" works equally well.

And you do seem to enjoy your foot descriptions. :)

The contents of the basket were hidden; a gray cloth was draped over them.


Try this instead:

The contents of the basket were hidden, draped with a gray cloth.


It looks a bit nicer and doesn't grate as much.

Hell reached out and touched all of her senses.


Touched. Touched. All your amazing descriptions, your wonderful vocabulary, your careful arrangement of words, and all Hell can do is touch her? I do believe you can do better that that. Hell can seize her, a the very least!

She knew then, what she had to do.


Does this need a comma? I'm not quite sure. I figure, though, that if it's notable enough that I noticed, it's notable enough to get a once-over from you.

A destination set solid in her mind, she exited the apartment.


Once again, I think that this sentence doesn't fully demonstrate your amazing way with words. I love your descriptions, but your action can get a little dry. "A destination set solid in her mind" doesn't flow the way the rest of your style does.

Gabryel was wrapped in the green apron of the café’s workers, the cloth stained with russet blotches.


Here, your style is evident, but now it's a little muddled. (Repetition annoys me more than other readers - you may want to ignore some of these.) Personally, I don't like the second clause. I think that you shouldn't say "green apron" and "cloth". It should read more like "Gabryel was wrapped in the cafe workers' apron, the green cloth stained with russet blotches." Just a personal thing.

She clutched the machine to her stomach, still giggling with her unhinged joy.


You don't need "her" before "unhinged". The sentence is equally effective and less clunky. And we don't want clunky, do we, dear?

Overall: I really liked this story. You definitely have unique ideas! From what I can tell, you just have to go over the story once or twice and fix the style of the story. There weren't any major cop-outs, no major characterization issues I noticed. (I was right about her being a psychopath.) And your descriptions are beautiful.

Hope this was helpful! I can explain things better if you need me to.
"...I laugh, and laugh, and laugh. Sometimes I can stop laughing before people start edging away and talking about soothing drinks." - Lord Raould of Goldenlake and Malorie's Peak

Free Reviews
  





User avatar
157 Reviews



Gender: Female
Points: 3015
Reviews: 157
Thu Aug 21, 2008 10:59 am
alwaysawriter says...



Hi Clo, here to review.

his voicing crackling static
I'm having a little hard time with imagining someone's voice crackling static. Maybe replace Crackling with Was?

It sounded like an animal, a misplaced noise.
What does an animal and a misplaced noise have anything to do with each other?

The click as he disconnected was followed by a keening silence.
This sentence bothers me a little bit, mainly the word Keening, but I'm not sure why. What about replacing it with Sharp, Penetrating or Trenchant?

The anger simmered in her bones, but her skin remained as cold as the winter lake.
I like this line; it paints a good picture in my mind.

Breakfast, this goal, was helping to keep the fire under her skin.
Like everyone else, I don't understand the first part of this sentence 'Breakfast, this goal,' Maybe reword it a little differently?

She knew then, what she had to do.
There doesn't need to be a comma there; it interupts the flow of the sentence.

She hadn’t quite made it past the yellowing dissolute apartment building when she heard his gurgling shriek, rife with the sound of demonic beings unraveling his throat. Her hands jerked upward in glee as people in the streets turned to look, panic blooming on their faces. She kept walking through the needling chaos, walking with bouncing steps back to her apartment.
I like all of this but I would like to know what's happening on on Gabryl's side. Is the same thing happening to him as it did to her?


You never told us WHY he broke up with her, other than it wasn't working. Give us some background on that because unless I have info as to why I should feel bad for either one of them, they mean nothing to me.
It was a good plot; who knew Hell could show up (basically) right at your doorstep?

I hope I helped and PM me if you need anything.:)

-alwaysawriter
Meshugenah says to (18:12:36):
Kat's my new favorite. other than Sachi.

WWJD: What Would Jabber Do?
  





User avatar
894 Reviews

Supporter


Gender: Female
Points: 444
Reviews: 894
Fri Sep 05, 2008 1:24 pm
PenguinAttack says...



I should be knocked out for taking so long! So sorry, Clo.

Okay, well I’m afraid this is going to be terribly general, my dear. I can safely say that I did indeed enjoy this quite a bit. From the crits above my own, I can tell you’ve had some firm, clear feedback on the little things – and probably the bigger things – so what I’m going to offer you is an overall personal view of your story, what I think might help, or what I thought needed work.

Firstly: Yes, I liked the story. Do I think it needs work? Yes, it definitely does. What we both have to remember is that a lot of what I’m going to mention now is more than slightly subjective. Some of it is about style, a bit about word choice and another bit about content. So, if we both keep in mind that we understand it’s subjective and that you can feel free to say “zomg, whut? Liez” , we shouldn’t have any major hernias, aye?

Onto it then, woman! I hear you roar. Well, okay then.

A real firstly now: Firstly we’ll chat about word choice. I love the pretty, Polish names, and the descriptions you give are often lovely, example:
“Her bedroom door sang a miserable song as she opened it.”

That’s a beautiful line right there that you ought to be rightly proud of. ^^ You have a couple of these utterly divine lines that made me smile to myself. But in some places your wording makes everything a little... odd.

“but curiosity turned the knob and creaked the door open a sliver”

The use of “creaked” here is odd. I understand the usage but I think you could have re-worded a little and make it less clunky than I feel it is. A simple “and helped creak the door...” might have worked better for you?

So I think you might want to run through the story and have a look at the words that don’t quite fit in right. Some of them are fine because they just make us say “oooh, interesting word!” but others, like the above, make me go “wha?”

Now we’re going to look into a little bit of content. By content I mean the story itself, not how it’s written or the context or anything, but the narrative. I like the narrative. And I love your characters, what little bits we get of their character. But somehow I thought it was too quick. I’m not sure if there will be more to this, it might be an idea as this is a good piece, but I felt as though this ran rather swiftly from start to end. I could easily see this being longer, developing it into a novella or something. You’ve got a great premise, you see. Kazimiera could easily take a longer time to be convinced of what she should do. She could even take on bigger challenges for the fun of it.

I didn’t like that she left the basket there. Is she going to go back and get it, or have the daemons gone now that they’ve fulfilled their purpose? I’m also curious as to what “last night” was and why the basket was given to her. Also, that voice telling her to let go – where’d that come from/go? These things could have been included but it would make your story a lot longer, and you’d have to consider making it into parts or chapters, which is always a slight hassle.

Moving on from my random, we have a look at the style. So, the style is the most subjective thing here, and of course each individual has their own personal style – I’d never think anything less – but I think maybe some of this could be altered slightly? I like the use of clipped, formal sentences; they feel right for your character. But sometimes the story felt a little clunky, a bit full, even though it moved quickly. I think this is also due to the formality of the sentences. I’m not sure if you’d even want to look at this, I mean, it works for your character and your piece and it’s probably just me who feels it’s slightly awkward. I’m probably a bit of a traditionalist that way. In any case, that’s up to you.

That’s about it, I think. You write wonderfully, Clo, and I rather enjoyed reading the story itself. Keep up the awesome work.

*Hearts* Le Penguin.

(If later on you decide this crit sucks and I didn’t deliver just ask for another one and I’ll oblige with a full, in-depth crit in time – please don’t abuse this offer, haha, I don’t have stacks of time with uni, so I can’t be making up for crits that were actually satisfactory.)
I like you as an enemy, but I love you as a friend.
  





User avatar
45 Reviews



Gender: Female
Points: 890
Reviews: 45
Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:13 pm
mnesomeye says...



And Hell matched her steps.


....dang. That is one powerful line. Problem is, I don't understand why. *laughs* .... seriously, though. I don't know. Why was Hell there if she'd given "it" to her ex? Don't worry, this ain't your fault: just naivety - or rather, ignorance - on my part. ;)

Your descriptions are beautiful: you choose each adverb, each simile, each metaphor according to the mood you are trying to set. Here are some examples that set the mood so well that I practically danced over them in my ecstasy *grins*:

Kazimiera woke up to it, the blanket pulled up to her chin, Gabryel’s voice erupting from the small holes of the machine’s speaker. It carried down the hallway and into her room, his thick accent coating the words that slipped under the door.

This had me gripped from the start.

Her bedroom door sang a miserable song as she opened it.

I read this line twice - once, because I'm a skim reader (and usually miss those little descriptive gems, such as this one), and twice, because my brain registered it when I was nearing the end of the paragraph and suddenly realised how incredible it was.

The message crinkled like crisp paper. The click as he disconnected was followed by a keening silence. It filled her small apartment, settling around the peeling wallpaper in the corners, sizzling as it coasted along her skin.

I felt the electricity, too. No lie - it sent shivers up my spine. *giggles*

It sounded like an animal, a misplaced noise. She approached her door, poised nervously on the balls of her feet, her fingers folding over the doorknob with a hesitance. A strange biting cold seemed to come from the hall, and it filled her mouth as she inhaled. She briefly contemplated calling the landlord before checking for herself, but curiosity turned the knob and creaked the door open a sliver.

BLOODY INTENSE. Woah!

Images cast in shadow and the halo of firelight singed her eyes: a sin, murder, blood draining from a human body and the crimson staining the clothes of the killer; gray skin, flecked with scales, yellow fingernails scrambling over rocks, blushing pink around the irritated and curling cuticles. Her ears were wrought with shrieks, the voices all knowing her name; they moaned it, their throats gurgling a wet sound that bubbled and rasped.

BLOODY INTENSER. :D

The small café was crammed, sighing and small, between a bookstore and a filthy apartment building. Kazimiera could smell the éclairs, the bad coffee, and the sweat of the crumb-covered employees.

It's not often you hear someone describe a cafe as 'sighing'. Sagging, maybe. Sad, maybe. Sighing? That's original. I how you steal fragments of emotion from the atmospheres you crate, and then choose your words not based on the image they create, but the emotions they evoke. It's brilliant.

She stood on the sidewalk, cradling the handbasket, glaring at him and all his health, his well-off disposition; he should be decayed, unkempt, without her. She wanted his face to be creased with stress lines, his limbs cracking from stiffness, his entire being not functioning without her presence.

Ain't that the truth. Pff - men.

She kept walking through the needling chaos, walking with bouncing steps back to her apartment.

And this is where we enter 'the picky zone'. (Ah, you weren't expecting that now, weren't you?) See, I have this thing. This thing dictates to me that in a sentence, you should never ever repeat a word unless it's for effect; or, in my head, the sentence is ruined.

So when you repeat 'walking', it jars the flow of words for me, slightly. Is there anything else you could use? (How stupid a question - I seem to have forgotten how brilliant your vocabulary is *laughs*). I have to say, though - I didn't notice it first time round. The way you've written is so well paced that I was skimmin' over this thing with the same gusto as Vivaldi. *giggles* That's why I hate reviewing - I read an incredible story, but when you pick it apart, all these non-existant "faults" come to light, and then I feel as though I'm insulting the author. *sigh*

Kazimiera took off her coat, her purse, her gloves, sinking down to the ground by her answering machine, her wiggling fingers gliding over the buttons and pushing recent messages. His last message began to play, and she leaned on his words as shaking rolls of laughter trembled through her limbs, her eyes tearing up, her voice ripped with sheer delight.

Amidst her peeling laughs, she wrapped her hands around the answering machine, tearing out his voice just like the bloodied creatures had done; it quit sounding as it unplugged, but she could still hear it in her head, circling with its cruelty toward her, circling and circling.

This phased me a bit at the end. I didn't understand what she was feeling. I know it says "sheer delight", but then you say "she could still hear it in her head, circling with its cruelty toward her". Is she genuinely happy, or has she gone hysterical? I can't tell the difference here.

None of the individuals brushing against her suspected anything more than cheap dollar store goods in that delicately woven basket gripped in her hands.

I don't know - "cheap dollar store goods" slightly jars this sentence. Maybe you could hyphenate 'dollar-store'? It'd help people who don't live in America understand better ^_^ (because we call 'em 'pound stores' down 'ere in bonny UK... I thought you were using 'dollar' to describe the basket).

Her blood boiled black. She felt her mouth tic, and her arms slowly moved forward, presenting him with her gift.

Someone's probably told you this already, but the word 'tic'. Is that what you meant to use? I'm seeing the word 'tick' instead... but to me, not even that makes perfect sense. How about 'twitch'?

Told you - non-existant faults. But I'm glad I gave you more of a review that a "well done"! This is a brilliant story - and it's only the brilliant ones that I love to rip apart... *smirks* it's the same with clothing. T-shirts, jeans, trench coats - seen it all before. Then I find something new, something vintage, something mad - and I want to pull it apart... want to detail every last inch of it, learn it like the back of my hands, make an informed opinion of every strand of thread that holds it together.

I'm weird like that. Thanks for reading my incredibly long (and pointless, in some places) review! *applauds*
~ Mnes x
  








"Sometimes even shooting stars find wishes that miss their marks."
— TryHardNinja