From a young age, Carmilla had a knack for disappearing. She couldn’t control it at first, it was just a feeling started by a jittery heart. When things were bad … Continue reading The Start of a Vanishing Act
The flight from New York to LA takes just over 6 hours.
Martin VonBraun hugged his brother Joe goodbye at airport security. He spent some time in duty-free before he headed to Gate 7A. Joeseph made his way back into the city, through crowded tubes and up a cramped escalator to his office. He sat down at his desk as flight 374 was taking off from New York airport.
An hour later, Martin was sitting back and choosing which in-flight movie to watch. Joe was pouring over a legal case on his desk, feeling a little too hot. He called his secretary to open the window.
Two hours into the flight, Martin got up to use the bathroom. Joe was in a bathroom too, vomiting blood.
At hour three, Martin was asleep. Joe was paralyzed, but fully conscious.
At hour five, Joe watched as his fingers shriveled and turned black. Martin ordered a beer from the flight attendant.
The flight from New York to LA takes just over 6 hours. Parasite X kills its host 5 hours and 11 minutes from the time of infection.
Flight 374 was delayed coming into LA airport. Nobody from air traffic control would answer them. When they did eventually pluck up the courage to land, it appeared from the air that all flights had been grounded. As they came closer, they saw the corpses littering the runways. Blackened and shriveled, like a fire had spread through every living person, leaving all else untouched.
The plane sat on the runway, but nobody ran out to meet them and nobody dared leave. They checked their phones. Messages from loved ones came through- emotional jigsaw pieces of the last 6 hours, as the parasite had infected and taken down the country. Possibly the world. The pilot radioed out. Perhaps there were other flights full of the uninfected. Perhaps there were more than these 204 survivors. Or perhaps not. It would only take one infected passenger to take down the whole plane. Maybe they’d all just been lucky.
Martin’s thought about calling his brother, but he couldn’t seem to move his fingers. The corpse of Joe VonBraun lay in a silent office, surrounded by so many more. His dead fingers curled against the floor. The parasite inside him, still hungry, took root in his brain. Joe was gone, but his fingers twitched. His eyes opened.
Via Daily Prompt: Infect
I don’t hear things like you do. I hear them in colours.
It doesn’t quite translate the way you think. White noise tends to be a little pink. Finding white noise that is purely white is as difficult as finding untouched snow in a playground. There’s too much going on these days- too many radio frequencies, too many phone calls- it pollutes it all.
Water tends to speak in violet and not deep blue like you might think. Stormy seas shout to me in a loud, purple haze. Blue noise is low and kind of unsettling. You can find it in small, glowing lines around wires. Electric blue, you might say.
If the world is a canvas, it was first painted green. Not just in the trees and plants, but in the background noise too. Man-made noises throw a lot of red and brown in to the mix. They bleed together a lot and it can get messy. I used to walk in the woods a lot, away from the city, to try and find that undiluted green.
It’s the only place I’ve ever seen black noise. And I haven’t been back since.
I suppose I had always known that it must exist. For white noise to exist, black must also, and so turns the colour wheel. I just hadn’t given much thought to what that might actually mean.
I was alone in the forest, enjoying the green, when I started to notice it get darker. At first, it turned to a mossy green, but then it grew darker still- like a terrible mould had spread across the forest floor, climbing up tree trunks and turning everything to rot. I couldn’t hear anything different, but the green was fading.
And then I saw her.
She lay motionless and pale beneath a tree, deep cuts on her arms and chest, at least one of them fatal. Her mouth was open in a scream and black noise poured from it.
Black silence, the true colour of a sound that would never be.
Usually, when I do the daily prompt I google the word for inspiration. Just to see if there’s a way of interpreting it that I hadn’t immediately thought of, or if something else sparks an idea. Today I found this cool Wikipedia page on the Colour of Noise and it was really interesting.
Via Daily Prompt: Noise
The key is kept in the dead man’s grasp.
That was it. That was all I had. A clue whispered to me through breaks in a fever dream. I held on to it tightly. I repeated it to myself over and over so it would not slip away.
I had been aware of someone in my room- a dark figure that I immediately knew was not a nurse. He came closer. He smelled of the sea. He made no noise when he walked. I did not see his face, but I did hear him whisper. The key is kept in the dead man’s grasp. I remember the moment of clarity in hearing those words. I knew exactly what he meant. I remember nodding, or at least trying to.
And then he was gone and the room was painfully bright. Monitors beeped beside me. A nurse had just finished opening my curtains. I remembered the man. I remembered his words. But I did not remember the meaning. I tried to sit up. If I could just get to the man. If I could just get him back I could ask him what he meant. The nurse gently pushed me back down. “Good to have you back with us,” he beamed at me. He did not sound like the man. “We thought that fever might never break. It’s best if you lie still for a while, so we can keep an eye on you.”
He poured some water in to a plastic cup and handed it to me. As I drank, I looked around. The room was familiar. I knew where I was. I’d flitted in and out of consciousness in this bed and taken some of it in. It had felt like I’d had one foot here and one foot… somewhere else. Perhaps not so much flitting in and out of consciousness, as flitting between consciousness’s. I was crushed that this reality was the one which I was now confined to.
That thought arrived in my head and, as if on some kind of cue, my family arrived in my room. We talked and they seemed happy. The talked to the doctors about keeping me in for a few more days until they were sure the fever had passed. I couldn’t really focus on any of them. They had layers they kept hidden from me and I hadn’t been able to see it until now. There were secrets in their smiles, lies hidden in their hugs and in between us there was discord between who we are and who we all thought each other to be. We were all strangers on a first name basis. I was restless until they left.
They key is kept in the dead man’s grasp.
I whispered it over and over again until the sun set. Until the main lights went out. Then I got up and put on some of the clothes on that my mother had brought me and left on a chair by my bed. I took a nurse’s pass from behind reception and walked down the stairs and through the door marked ‘Morgue.’
I checked the hands of every corpse. No keys. Nothing. The closest I came to finding anything was a scalpel blade that had been left lying beside the hand of a dead man. I picked it up anyway and held it tight.
Maybe a bit too tight. The blade cut my palm.
The pain was another moment of clarity. The first I’d felt since I woke up. All of my former grogginess was gone. I grasped it tighter. My blood ran on to the floor.
I hear it drip, drip, drip. I heard it gush. I smelled the sea.
A dark figure that I knew was not a nurse stood by the doorway. “Come home,” he whispered.
Via Daily Post: Grasp
A wisp of smoke in the pitch black. It rises up from the ground and curls, like a incandescent snake climbing towards the moonlight. From its base, cracks of crimson shoot out towards you.
You stop… in case the ground is about to fall apart. You know you should run, but your hammering, awe-filled heart keeps you to rooted to the ground.
A sound in the silence. A faint, melodic hum and a perfectly in-time drum. It grows so loud that the cracks in ground pulse. They widen.
You can smell caramel apples. And freshly-made popcorn.
The wisp of smoke starts to move like a drawing on a chalkboard. The outline of a person in a top hat and a slightly billowing jacket. Applause leaks through the cracks in the ground. The dark space between the outline grows more solid and then there she is.
The applause is gone. The music stops. The cracks are sealed without a trace. The smoke disperses in to the night. And her surprised face stares at you from under her top hat. Her suit is midnight black. Her eyes a bright and piercing green.
“Where the hell did you come from?” she asks. And you almost laugh because you feel like you could ask her the same thing.
In stead, you ask, “Who are you?” Because that feels more polite.
“I’m a conjurer,” she says, conjuring up a caramel apple and handing it to you. “I usually disappear for a break during my vanishing act… I’ve never vanished to in front of a person before.”
“Don’t they notice you’re gone?” you ask.
“I can chose the moment of time I re-appear to. It’ll be seconds to them, but I could spend a few hours here. If you wouldn’t mind?”
You don’t know what to say, so you take a bite of the apple. Warm, sweet and delicious. It has a caramel core too.
She watches you and smiles so brightly it puts stars in the sky.
She got to the station at 11.58 PM. She realised as she blinked at the electronic clock on the wall that she hadn’t even considered the possibility that there wouldn’t be any trains running at this time of night. She’d just packed up and stormed out. There was nobody around for her to ask, the station was empty- too small and too rural to bother staffing at this time of night.The station was poorly light and darker than usual, due to tonight’s Blood Moon that had turned the full moon red and stolen it’s light.
She sat down on a cold bench and considered going back to her boyfriend’s. She checked her phone. No call. No text. She wasn’t going back to him without at least one of those. Perhaps she’d have to sleep here. At least there was a vending machine nearby if she got peckish.
The clock ticked closer to midnight and she heard the sound of wheels on the track. A bright light in the darkness grew bigger as the train approached the station platform. She stood and picked up her bags. The train came to a stop as somewhere, deep in the village, a clock began to strike midnight. It was dark grey, with tinted windows that meant she couldn’t see inside. Perhaps because it was a night train? On the side the words “Lunar Express” were written in silver. It puzzled her that an express train would come to somewhere so remote.
She opened the door and stepped up in to the carriage, the gap between the train and the platform was higher than she was used to. The light inside the carriage inside was low, with a slightly orange hue. It was surprisingly full, but incredibly quiet. She sat down in the first seat she came to at the back and rummaged in her bag for her money.
The train pulled out of the station as the last of the clock chimes faded to nothing.
She didn’t know where she wanted to go- or even where the train was heading, but she hoped she had enough for at least one stop. That would be far enough to prove her point. She checked her phone again. Still nothing.
Oh wait – no signal. No Wi-Fi.
Maybe he was trying to call her and couldn’t get through. Were they in a tunnel?
She looked up. She could still see the full moon in the sky. It caught her off guard. It looked bigger, closer… and no longer red…?
She could no longer feel the judder of the trains on the track. It was too dark outside to see anything but the moon. Something felt wrong. She sat up a little straighter. The interior of this train was older than she had expected. and turned her attention to her fellow passengers. They all faced away from her in silence. She opened her mouth to clear her throat, but before she could make a sound they all turned to look at her at once. Old, faded faces with blank, dead eyes.
“I need to get off the train,” she heard herself say, standing up.
“You can’t do that, dear,” a voice behind her made her jump. “Not for a few hundred years at least. We only stop once in a Blood Red Moon.”
The clock in the village struck 12.01. A man arrived at the station to look for his girlfriend. In the distance he heard a train whistle that sounded like a scream.
Author: Clara Ross
Throwback to an older post because I’m too tired and full of the cold to write a new one today.
He emerged from the shadows. A streetlight shone down on him, turning his blonde hair into a halo and forming a pool of ethereal light at his feet. His piercing green eyes spoke directly to her heart. She was instantly enamoured. Love at first sight.
He smiled and she felt warm. He beckoned her over, towards the light. She went without question, amazed he’d noticed her at all.
She stepped in to the light around him. His outstretched hand turned in to a claw. He scooped out her eyes. And love at first sight became the last thing she ever saw.