Northern Gothic (part one) #30days #30days2018 by Cherie Ann Turpin

 

Willimantic is a small blip of a town between New York City and Boston. It used to be called Heroin Town.

Considering the fact that most of the textile factories and thread factories shut down in the 70s and moved down South (as in Central America, since even Southerners were insisting on union wages), and considering the larger fact that Connecticut was no longer home to the big insurance companies, you would not be surprised at the condition of Willimantic by the late 90s.

Once a sprawling, working class community with huge Victorian homes, ancient buildings and bustling businesses on Main Street, along with a steady influx of French Canadians, Puerto Ricans, and Irish-Americans, many houses now stood empty, became occupied by UConn students, or became drug havens for heroin junkies, and many of the businesses either went bust or else moved to the strip mall down on I-195. It was said that the mall, a venture put forward as a generator of new jobs during the recession in the late 80s, had actually killed what was left of downtown life. Here and there a few storefronts attempted to breathe life, and actually did survive, albeit piecemeal. Two restaurants actually maintained good business, drawing in the yuppies who lived on the outskirts of Willimantic or from Mansfield, near the state university set in the midst of cow pasture. But it was nothing like what it was. Such was the state of economics in Southern New England.

And what of the lost souls who wandered up and down the street, search for the last hit, the new high that would surely take them from the everyday misery of the memories lucking behind the empty theater across from cracked, crumbling Hooker hotel (actually J. C. Hooker, who never imagined himself being known as a swatter’s haven, a hooker’s hotel?)? Or the greasy spoon still serving cholesterol to truckers traveling through from Providence to Hartford, to New York, to beyond?

Nestled in the midst of this slow death was a fledgling cafe, once a fledgling bookstore specializing in feminist studies and other such subversive material. The ghosts of the bustling city lived in the alley between the cafe and Greenleaf lamp shop, and through their descendants who, not imagining any other place to live, continued to shop and eat on Main Street, continuing to take their children downtown, choosing the desolate scenery over the larger yet still desolate city of Hartford. Or the students from either Eastern State or Connect State looking for cheap rent and privacy from the desperation of campus life.

Such was the woman who stepped out of the back of the building where the vegetarian cafe was located. As she walked down the narrow pathway she tried not to notice the ever watching eyes behind the windows in the slum apartments to the left of her, the barely painted exterior of the back of the next building that did not look like an apartment building from the front, but just another office building. She had not been surprised at its decrepit sate when she was first shown the apartment in the building next door, nor was she particularly afraid of the young men who occasionally wandered out to fix their rusty cars.

She was cautious, silent, hoping that their stares were more of caution than of interest. Two years were gone, and yet no act of revenge, no smell of sulfur, no evidence of a hex. Yet.

For the last three years she was living with her head ready to turn at a second’s notice to look back, to the side, looking for the change in temperature, the spirit that she knew to be lurking somewhere, for the face of the man who drove the energy towards her, who she knew to be motivated only for one purpose: to drive her up to and beyond the limits of her sanity.

She looked around the parking lot to see if the red 1987 Subaru station was still sitting in the parking lot before unlocking her car and settling into her driver’s seat. Looking in the rearview mirror, she saw herself and grimaced at her already melting hair in the evening humidity of late summer heat.

The moon already lurked in the shadowy sky, but it would be late in the night before the cool night air would give relief from the July sun. She softly touched her face, noticing how her coffee brown skin seemed to glow in the rays of moonlight. Seemingly pleased with herself, she started the engine of her gray 1988 Chevy Nova and sauntered out the parking lot. The adjacent parking lot was nearly empty, save for a stray taxi, and two police cars which were each occupied with white male officers. They seemed engrossed in deep conversation. The road seemed to carry the gray Chevy towards the stop sign.

She watched a thin woman entering the small gym the right of the intersection, and felt a slight sensation of guilt. As in response, the thin woman flipped her hair and turned to look her. The gray car zoomed across the intersection and up the hill, rushing pass the overhanging trees and looming Victorian houses, threading through the narrow streets and parked cars. She kept her eyes on oncoming cars at several intersections, expecting some fool to ignore the stop signs she crossed, as if an accident was tomorrow’s promise. When she reached the Route 6 highway she began to relax, settling into the monotony of highways connecting to highways, connecting and collecting cities.

Her eyes never the left the road, but her mind swayed back and forth from the road to her apartment in Willimantic, to the bedroom where she knew her lover was waiting, her moment to raise energy she needed to do battle, to focus on the inner shrine she built in her belly, the womb where she wished to fill with more than sperm. All of this she would try to spill forth to her spirit guide in Glastonbury in an elaborate ritual that could help cast out for the good of many the enemy now pursuing her destruction.

“Will he cure you?” asked her lover, as they later lay entwined, their love juices still pouring from their bodies. “No,” she answered, “but he will help me break down the walls that protect him and allow him to continue to work against me unchallenged.”

And so soon she shot off onto I-384 to Glastonbury in her tony car, where her elf-like spirit guide sat waiting for her arrival.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

 

Advertisements

Ghost Voices #30days #30days2018 by Cherie Ann Turpin

IMG_4745

About six months ago I noticed what I thought to be a faint hum in my work elevator riding down to the street level after staying late to work on an assessment report.  For about three nights I had the impression I was listening to a radio or echoes from another floor, or at least a malfunctioning elevator mic.  I wasn’t sure of the source, and I didn’t get confirmation of its source from security downstairs.  Slightly spooky, but not enough to really care one way or another.

One month ago, I had another assessment project to complete, and this time my late night work sessions lasted until well after evening traffic melted into the night.  This time I noticed two distinct voices engaged in what seemed to be a somewhat intense conversation, only I wasn’t the one speaking, and no one else was riding down 29 floors to the street.  I began to record this strange, disembodied exchange with my cell phone, not knowing if it would make more sense upon playback at home than with me standing there hearing it.

It occurred to me that I was actually not hearing people still walking the planet, but ghosts.  I do know that one sentence emerged from my computer when I uploaded the latest exchange, a distinctly male voice that seemed to carry a quiet sliver of pain as it crossed curtains of existence.  It was a question, actually:

“Are you angry at me?”

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

May 2018 #30days #30Days2018 Flash Fiction 30 Day Marathon Begins Today #CherieAnnTurpin

yuDHtz2I_400x400

Expect me today.  Rules? Look for the hashtag #30days #30Days2018, and help support me in my push to write 30 stories (200 words or more) in the month of May. I will make the entire month this year!  Look for recurring themes and returning/continuing fictional universes, look for sex in lit, lit that shocks, lit from tweets, lit from odd places like messages, hashtags, dreams, fantasies, masturbatory fixations, and yes, lit from headlines.  I promise to not censor and at some point have you fixated on who or what is making a guest appearance.  Please comment, and if you really like what you are reading, please leave a tip in my PayPal Donate link on the left sideline.

Stained Glass

It was in a nondescript flat, wooden box in the basement, a leftover from previous tenants now long gone. Or the tenants who came of left before the last couple who lived here. Rosalind couldn’t really tell, nor was she particularly interested in dragging that heavy box upstairs to take to the corner for trash day. Something about the box piqued her curiosity, though, especially the light that seemed to shine through one of the uncovered edges.

It took her an hour to pull and drag the box up the wooden stairs.

After finding a hammer, she flipped it to the prong side and began pulling out the nails, carefully tossing them in a neat pile. The wood seemed old, and gave way to her strength as she pulled out a large, round pane of stained glass. Looking at the wooden walls in the living room and dining room and the square window panes, it occurred to Rosalind that this could not have been installed in the house because it was too big for any house. It belonged to a church, perhaps a church long gone.

As she studied the design and colors, she noted the familiar image of the Virgin Mary and Child, how the pane seemed to capture the sunlight coming into the kitchen as if to store its ray like a solar panel. The room began to fill with a warm glow, and the air was suddenly fragrant with the smell of fresh roses. As Rosalind began to fill with a certain and familiar quiver of her state of “tipsy,” it occurred to her that no church would have commissioned such a work for their sanctuary, for it would not have been deemed acceptable for the masses.

What was once thought to be basement junk was now a center of attention in her living room as found art to outsiders who visited her as it hung on her wall seeming to have its own source of light even as the sun set outside.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

#ww470 #30days Never Ending Light

Waiting for night’s rest became useless about a year ago.

To be honest, I’m not sure my existence here is proof that I am alive. I could be in some sort of Purgatory. Food and water tends to be whatever I find on this island, and the cave I use for rest is warm–though strangely empty of inhabitants I would expect in a dark place in the wild.

But no one else and nothing else living beyond plants exists here. The sun never fully rises or sets. It hovers, as if time itself is waiting for something.

I remember life before the here that is now.

I remember falling asleep at night, waking up to go to campus for a meeting, and seeing/feeling heat as if the sun itself had landed in the middle of town. I remember the crush of debris and white-hot air as the megaton warhead exploded and my skin began to boil–then there was here.

Waiting.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Revenant #30days #ww470

It was cold to his fingers when he touched the edges of the canister.

He expected to see a candle when he crouched to the ground to pick it up, but no, it was a free standing flame inside a lattice patterned canister in the middle of the park at night. The flame seemed to dance back and forth as he picked up the metal frame as if to speak to him. He looked at his German Shepherd companion keeping him company during his night walk and noticed the hair flailing out from his tail as he slowly backed away as if in silent alarm. The man returned the light to the ground and also began to back away, suddenly feeling dizzy and slightly panicked. The light began to ascend from its cage like a firefly and inch its way toward the man and his dog as they turned back to the narrow path towards home. Both wind and feet rustled through the forest as they fled from uncontrolled flames that now consumed dry branches and leaves left in their wake.

Bottle Service #7 (Thirty Stories in Thirty Days) by Cherie Ann Turpin

Bottle Service #7 (Thirty Stories in Thirty Days)
by Cherie Ann Turpin
bottle_service_main
A quiet crowd hovered in the alleyway between [] street leading up to the dull, gray door of Aremwen’s Parlour near opening time, 11 p.m.  Two Nephilim hybrid brothers, one with Black skin, one with White skin, stood at the entrance as security, quietly surveying the makeup of the chic crowd.  Both men wore matching black suits, sunglasses, and Secret Service style earpieces, but they reserved the electronics for human eyes and ears, as they were adept at telepathy and teleportation.  They were quite useful as security not just for their  7’8 height and massive chest and arm muscles, but because they were magical beings like the clientele of this private club.
BOTTLE-SERVICE
The bar was located in the alleyway near an art gallery just before the C&O Canal at the bottom of Georgetown.  It was the only venue that openly welcomed Phorzhicoans, witches, vampires, demons, angels, shifters, warriors, extractors, telepaths, fallen deities–in other words, all uber-natural beings often not welcome among humans in social settings.  Mary, who was a vampire, owned Aremwen.  At 300 she still looked like a slender teenager with smooth, dark brown skin, and a tall Afro cut down the sides into a mohawk.  She was originally brought to the New World as a small child from Ghana.

After surviving the Middle Passage, Mary was sold into slavery to a small farm outside Jamestown, Virginia.  Her Vampire Mother, under the guise of a freedwoman midwife, rescued her from the lecherous slave master whose nefarious intentions had already resulted in an unwanted pregnancy and birth of a stillborn girl.  After smuggling the almost dead 19 year-old from the farm, the “midwife” offered Mary the choice of a quick death to relieve her of the painful, uncontrollable bleeding that would certainly result in her eventual death, or a new life that would free her of human pain and enslavement.  Several centuries later, Mary owned a high-end bar that offered Bottle Service to VIPs, a complicated but extremely profitable service, given the special appetites of her VIP clientele.

Few of the ordinary patrons who sailed through the bar could afford Bottle Service–contrary to the myths, most supernatural beings these days struggled to make ends meet by working like the humans–but there were a few who had not been around long enough to know of Mary’s wrath who deemed themselves cocky enough to attempt to run a scam, i.e., get Bottle Service and skip out on the bill.  Such was the entourage of new vamps in the corner, loud enough to partially drown out the techno music pumping through the bar.  Some of them were too young to even have the knowledge of comparing vampire powers.  Had even one of them known the full extent of Mary’s power none of them would be destined to be tied to each other with heavy silver chain links, prone, and in a pile like logs to be set afire in the venue’s basement.

Mary would soon have a nice talk with the Nephilim brothers, because they were either clearly off their game tonight, or she had two very strong creatures who were in on the scam.  Either possibility brought dread and not a little bit of irritation to Mary, as she stared at the quivering set of baby vampires in the corner.

This was not going to be a good night.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.