Friday 6 April 2012

Friday Flash - Talent Show

Simon Powell sat at the table in the village hall, and motioned for quiet. The dull hubbub of voices in the audience died away, leaving behind a silence so pregnant it almost gave birth on the floor. A young man stumbled forwards onto the stage, forced on by an assistant in the wings. Simon recognised him as Edmund Rock, the butcher's boy.

"Hello there, Ed! What are you going to do for us this evening?" asked Adrina Sayle. She sat beside Simon, draped in fur and smelling of mothballs and violets. Simon thought she was a little overdressed to judge a local talent contest, but Adrina didn't get out much these days.

"I, er, I-" Edmund broke off to dash across the stage and into the wings nearest Simon and Adrina. Faces twisted and handkerchiefs were held to mouths as the sound of retching filled the hall. Simon waved to the assistants backstage. Nervous contestants shuffled among themselves.

A girl pushed her way to the front of the gaggle and strode onto the stage. A hush fell across the gathered villagers as they recognised Melandra. Her bushy hair wafted in the faint breeze from an open window near the stage. She sucked at her crooked teeth and stared at the judges with her mismatched eyes.

"Is that the girl from the beach?" whispered Adrina. Simon nodded. The whole village knew, and avoided, the old beachcomber's hut in Piper's Cove. Parents told their children tales of a mad old witch who would eat their pudgy feet, and even the village drunkards gave the hut a wide berth. Apart from the fishermen, people largely stayed away from the whole stretch of coastline. It wasn't safe.

Melandra cleared her throat. Simon jumped, and fought to regain his composure. Ripples of unease spread throughout the audience. The tension hummed so loudly that Simon wondered if one of the boys backstage was practicing the cello.

"Yes, dear, what were you planning to do for us?" asked Adrina. She pasted a false smile on her face, the lines deepening around her scarlet mouth.

"I wanted to sing for you tonight." Melandra's voice grated on Simon. He saw Adrina suppress a shudder out of the corner of his eye.

"Very well, Melandra. When you're ready."

"This song is for my mother, who cannot be here tonight," said Melandra.

"I'm sure she's here in spirit, dear," simpered Adrina.

"She is closer than you know," replied Melandra. She glanced at the stuffed siren above the village hall doors. Simon caught the eye of the talent show host - also the man who harpooned the siren. Reuben Fens spread his hands wide and shrugged. Outsiders often condemned the villagers for their attacks against the sirens but they didn’t know, couldn’t know, what it was like to fear that mournful wail every night.

Before anyone else could speak, Melandra pushed her shoulders back and forced herself to stand straight. She opened her mouth and launched into her song. Simon's eyes widened to hear the liquid notes slide through the air, tumbling over one another like flakes in a snowstorm. Gasps and exclamations of amazement quivered among the audience.

Simon tried to lean sideways to speak to Adrina, but couldn't move. He forced his eyes downwards, and saw his hands folded on the desk where he'd left them. He looked to his right. Adrina sat bolt upright, her face frozen in a mask of amazement. He couldn't see the audience, but the only sound in the hall was that of Melandra's silvery song.

A siren song.

Simon's heart hammered in his chest but his hands refused to follow his commands. His body remained rigid, unable to move. All feeling in his tongue had gone, and the warning died in the back of his throat. Panic fluttered its shimmering wings at the edge of his mind.

The windows flew open and a cold wind ripped through the hall, tearing the flames from the oil lamps. Simon stared into the sudden darkness, and saw only the silvery outline of Melandra, painted in moonlight. The doors of the hall burst open, and screeches from the depths of damnation itself filled the air.

Simon wanted to close his eyes and his ears against the wet tearing sounds behind him, but Melandra’s sisters brought their retribution to the whole village. It was their sole act of mercy that he didn’t feel a thing as they tore him apart.

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Burned out and washed up?

Hello all, remember me? Wow, this makes a change, a blog post that's not a photo prompt or a Friday flash!

I know, I know, I've been somewhat lacking when it comes to writing blog posts of late. I've been telling myself it's because I've been too busy. If I haven't been working on stuff for my teacher training course, I've been prepping for teaching sessions. If I'm not doing that, I'm writing Friday flashes, putting in some words on To Kill A Dead Man, planning the next book I'm going to write, or working on my PhD's literature review. Or, if I'm honest, I'm killing things in Azeroth on Warcraft.

It's all perfectly reasonable. I've got a lot on. But it's more than that. It seems that I get plenty of ideas for posts, and they're all entered into an 'Ideas' note I have in the Blog notebook in my Evernote app. And that's about as far as they go. Anyone who follows me on Twitter (@icypop) knows I waffle on about blog posts I think I'll write, or that I want to write...but then they never materialise. I think I have isolated the problem.

My creative drive appears to have shrunk to the size of a walnut. Therefore writing down the idea seems to satisfy that drive, and I no longer have an urge to finish writing the damned thing. Simply recording the idea was enough. It's an absolute wonder that I've even bothered to write this one! I tell myself that it's saving myself from publishing a load of crap on here but...nah.

Trouble is, the problem extends to more than just my (erratic) blog posts. It's also begun to extend to my fiction as well. I've got an Evernote notebook dedicated to Fiction, and I keep all my ideas for stories in separate notes. Right now, I've got thirty notes of ideas I'm yet to use. Sometimes it's because I'll have an idea I want to use, but then I have another idea I use instead, but the problem seems to be that once I've written the outline, I no longer have an urge to write the story itself. It's like my brain is stuck in 'summary mode'.

If I'm worries me. I see all of these blog posts and tweets about the work people are putting into their writing careers, and I feel like I'm just sitting on my hands watching the world pass me by. All the writers I know seem to be writing in every spare moment they have, while I'm finding excuses not to write.

So, I guess the question is...have I finally burned out?

Monday 2 April 2012

Photo Prompt 79

New prompt available!

If you want to use the prompt, all I ask is that you include a link to this entry and a credit to me for the photograph, and that you post a link to your story in the comments box below so I can see what you've come up with! If you don't comment on this entry, then I can't comment on your story.

The 79th prompt is Feather.

All photo prompts are my own photography - you can find more of it on Flickr. You can also buy my prints from Deviantart. 20% of all proceeds go to charity - the other 80% go towards my PhD fees!