Tag Archives: disaster

News and vignette

I got up late today and procrastinated with various forms of social media. I always flip through them before starting a writing day, but I lingered long enough to know I was goofing off. I still managed about 2800 words of The Yak Guy Project.

Yak Guy is the one where I’m trying to use the Major Arcana of the tarot as my story structure. I’ve had to meld some characters, and take a few out of order. Several things go on at once, and it doesn’t make sense to take them one at a time. For instance, the Empress character is also one of The Lovers. This overlaps the training of the Heirophont. I already had some of The Lovers, so I kind of moved faster on this section. It’s time for Strength, The Hermit, and the Wheel of Fortune. I may take some of these out of order, because it makes more sense to my story. I kind of want The Hanged Man before the Wheel. Right now I need to dwell on it some.

In other news, I woke up with a character and setting again. I don’t particularly want to dwell on her for weeks, and sometimes writing a vignette will get them out of my head. Here goes nothing, and remember I’m free writing this one:

Barbi Baronski awoke with a ringing in her ears. It was dark and dusty, and every muscle in her body ached. She stretched and her hands touched concrete overhead.

She’d driven into the city to model a new line of fitness wear, but couldn’t remember if she was going to the shoot or driving home. Daylight was visible if she looked along the ground above her head. She tried to rollover and crawl, but it was too tight in here. She slid along on her back using a kind of frog kick with her legs.

The ringing faded a bit, and Siri’s voice asked, “What can I help you with? What can I help you… What can I… What?, What?, What?…” Barbi kept sliding. Her back became a slow motion road rash of cuts and dirt.

Fresh air seemed like a wonderful thought, but it was dust, smoke, and grime. The sky above was brilliant blue, but there were no contrails, birds, or even trees. She pulled herself out of the rubble and sat upright.

The remains of her tattered top fell on her lap. Her $200 jeans were mostly threads, but clung together by some miracle. The entire world was silent except for the ringing in her ears. She covered herself with her right arm and stood up tentatively. There was nobody around. The place looked like a gravel pit, except for a twisted streetlight that snaked through the rubble.

She always drove home on 76, and thought she recognized some of its outline. Thank God her trainers survived. She walked for miles through the rubble. Pieces of automobiles dotted the landscape, and tiny bits of building foundations started appearing. The farther she walked, the more the rubble started to look like something. She stopped covering herself, because nobody was around at all.

By mid afternoon, her stomach reminded her that she was starving. She spotted a few walls and veered off her path to investigate. It turned out to be a family restaurant of some kind. A shard of mirror showed her that nearly six inches of her brunette hair had been singed away. A copper pipe produced a small blue flame at the end. The gas lines were still on out here.

She dug through the rubble and found a single can of refried beans, a tiny frying pan, and a bent chef’s knife. She used the heel of the knife to chop the can open enough to get it in the pan, then held it over the open flame until it smelled edible.

She kicked through the rubble and turned over a small table. A piece of concrete served as a chair. She managed to bend the tines of an old fork into a relatively useful position and ate in silence. Hardly health food, but it was food and that’s all that mattered now.

Across from her on a piece of remaining wall were three huge frames. Two were missing everything, but the third one appeared to be the dinner menu. It read:

  • Meatloaf $6
  • Prime Rib $13
  • Rack of Ribs $11
  • Sides…

The rest was torn away and it appeared to be cloth of some kind. Threads dangled in the breeze. She finished her beans, and used the bent knife to cut away most of her fancy jeans. $200 custom cutoffs? She split the pants legs and used some electrical wire to make them into a purse of sorts. She placed the pan and the old fork inside.

 

A rock smashed the remaining glass from the menu and she removed the cloth, cut a hole for her head and used more wire to stitch the sides closed. She looked down at her new shirt which now read:

 

Prime

Rack

 

Barbi tucked the bent knife into her belt and headed into the setting sun. Home was important, but if it wasn’t there any longer, she would head west until she found a new place to call home.

 

***

I have no idea what caused the disaster, aliens, war, the refried bean festival. I also have no intention of finishing Barbi’s story, but something may come to me in the future. These vignettes are a way of retiring some of the ideas I get. Sometimes it works, and sometimes I have to revisit them even years later.

There was more too it, like a dried up river, and talking to a snake. The snake represented an ancient survivor, and Barbi drew a parallel to herself as a survivor. I figured the post was long enough, and maybe Barbi could go on her adventure without me.

How about it you writers? Do you ever wake up having been visited by the muse? Do you make notes, forget about it, start another project? I can’t write all of mine. Barbi could be a good character, she’s obviously strong. Maybe she can be a side character one day, or maybe her story will come to me later.

It appears my muse is getting back into shape. Back to the paycheck job tomorrow.

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Filed under Short Stories & Vignettes, Writing

A Thousand Yesteryears, on Lisa Burton Radio #RRBC

 

Maggie Flynn was twelve years old the night she died. She was a victim of one of the worst engineering disasters in American History.

This is Lisa Burton Radio, and I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl. “Welcome to the show, Maggie.”

Squeeeeeerrrrrooooooo

“Oh no. Don’t go away, Maggie. I need to put another quart of psychode into this ectomometer and turn the gain up to ten.

“There, are you still with us Maggie?”

“Um…I think so. Can you hear me? I’m still getting used to communicating between worlds.”

“You’re coming through loud and clear. I’m so honored to have you on the show. The story of the Silver Bridge disaster is well documented, but maybe you can fill our listeners in on it.”

“Well, I don’t really like thinking about it, but Caden—he’s my older brother—and I went shopping that night. He had to drive across the bridge to get to Gallipolis where they have the big department stores. I wanted to buy my mom and dad something for Christmas…even though I was worried about going outside…”

“It’s okay, Maggie.”

“I saw the something really horrible just a few days before. I still get nightmares thinking about it.”

“You’re in West Virginia, right?”

“Mmm-hmm. In Point Pleasant. That’s on the other side of the river from Gallipolis, Ohio. It’s a small town, located kind of where the Ohio and the Kanawha Rivers come together.”

“It’s terrible that this was during the Christmas season. I’m glad your brother survived. Maybe you can tell our listeners why you were so afraid.”

“That thing I saw…have you ever heard of the Mothman? There were over 100 people in my town who said they saw him the year before I died. That would be in 1967. I thought maybe it was all a bunch of make-believe but then I chased Mischief into the Witch Wood… Mischief is my Nana’s cat—a very bad cat—and the Witch Wood is a place behind Nana’s house where I sometimes played with my friends. It’s got lots of trees and stuff, and a gnarled old sycamore that looks like a witch.

“I was never afraid to be there alone, but then I saw the Mothman. He was hideous! With burning red eyes and huge wings. When he stood up he was like a giant. I was terrified he’d see me, so I hid.”

“Sounds like a good plan to me. I read somewhere that he only hangs out in an area called the TNT. What does TNT stand for?”

“My dad said it’s an old munitions dump left over from World War II. The Army abandoned it a long time ago, but it’s still got these weird bunkers built into the ground. We call them igloos. They’re really creepy and some of them still have old shells and chemicals and stuff in them. There are buildings too, but they’re ghosts like me…abandoned and crumbling. The whole place is a maze of woods, marshland and ponds—almost a whole city’s worth, it’s so huge! People in Point Pleasant say it’s where the Mothman lives, but he’s been spotted around town and on some of the back roads, too. After the Silver Bridge fell, a lot of people said the monster was to blame.”

“What about the legend of Chief Cornstalk? Is it possible the Mothman has nothing to do with the disaster, and it’s all this ancient curse?”

“Maybe. We learned about Chief Cornstalk in school. He was a great Shawnee Indian chief. My teacher said he fought against the settlers in the beginning but then became a friend of the white man. He was trying to make peace between the people of Point Pleasant and the Indian tribes when he was betrayed and killed by soldiers. I heard he cursed the town of Point Pleasant with his dying breath. Some people think that’s what caused all the floods we’ve had, why the Mothman showed up, and the bridge fell. My friend’s father lost his job when the riverboat people left…it was a big company and all kinds of people ended up out of work when they left Point Pleasant. I wasn’t around for that, but I heard the whispers afterward…

“Go ahead, Maggie.”

“There’s always been whispers around here. Even George Washington saw things he couldn’t explain when he scouted the area before the Revolutionary War…at least according to Mrs. Quiggly. She sells brown eggs outside of town and knows everyone’s business. She said Point Pleasant and the TNT are located on ley lines and that’s why we’ve got so many weird things happening like UFOs and the Mothman. It’s probably why the monster came back.”

“Is that why you returned too?”

“Sort of. I’m worried about my friend, Eve. She’s all grown up now, an adult like Caden. Eve and her mother left town fifteen years ago after the bridge fell, but Eve came back. Her Aunt Rosie died and left Eve her house and the family hotel. The Parrish Hotel is kind of a landmark in town. Eve has to figure out what to do with the house and the hotel—she’s thinking of selling them—but there’s a bunch of stuff she doesn’t know that could get her into serious trouble. Aunt Rosie had all kinds of secrets and it’s all tied up with the night the bridge went down.

“Caden is looking out for Eve as best he can. I get the feeling they like each other—you know, boy-girl like?—but Caden has a bunch of secrets, too. He knows more about the Mothman than he’ll say, and there’s something really bad that happened back when he was a cop that has him messed up. Plus he blames himself for taking me out the night the bridge fell. Boys are so stupid! He won’t let go of the guilt. And Eve…”

“But if Eve is all grown up now, and she has Caden to look after her, she probably doesn’t have to worry.”

“I wish it were that simple, but there are so many bad things that happened back then, far more than I’ve said here. I can’t really talk about them the way I want to. Stupid rules about separating the dead from the living, you know? The bad stuff got buried and no one put the pieces together. I thought maybe they would go away but when Eve came back, all of it did, too. It isn’t just the Mothman. There’s something else—watching, and it all started that day when I chased Mischief into the woods.

“I…um…oh, I can’t say any more. Just please…you’ve got to let people know. Warn them. There’s something else in the woods, hidden behind Nana’s old house. Eve was my best friend, and she’s in Squeeeeeerrrrrooooooo

LB: Maggie? Are you still with us? <kick, thump> Maggie?

Folks, I think we’ve lost Maggie, and I need to stock up on psychode. You can get the whole story in a book called A Thousand Yesteryears, by Mae Clair. I’ll include all the details on the website. For Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton.

***

Purchase Links A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS

Amazon

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Kobo

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iTunes

Kensington Publishing

 

 

 

 

You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts:

Website

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Twitter (@MaeClair1)

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Craig here. I read this one some time ago, and gave it every bit of five stars. Absolutely wonderful book.

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