The Flipside

Welcome to my reading room. The works showcased here will most likely be first draft. Red pencils are most certainly welcome.

The 500 concept story begins here.

These works may have shocking content, whether it be sexual, graphic or otherwise twisted. That said, if you aren't much of a horror fan, Carrie Clevenger's Reading Room is probably not for you.

All of these works are copyright, all rights reserved by Carrie Clevenger. I will electrocute. Promise.

Enjoy your stay.

"500" WIP Installments in Order:

2.10.2010

Reality Maybe

Skipping ahead. Just a hair. You'll be okay once the meds kick in, I promise. - C.C.


As soon as they passed through the barrier, Isobel lost power. The jazz dulled inside the car, relieving Stein's ears. He fought with the controls and pulled the long car into the first dark alley he could find. He smiled. Somehow, Isobel had brought him right back to New York. To reality. When the vehicle came to a halt he opened the door, his boot crunching on broken glass as he got out. A shattered beer bottle. He was home.

A wind was blowing over the city, swirling around his head with no sound. It was his hearing. The jazz finally made him deaf. He snorted and heard that, but then again, deaf people could hear themselves, right? He'd gladly make that trade, just to get the fuck away from Roger.

Shadowy forms huddled in corners of the building as he made his way through the alley, headed for the lit street beyond. A reddish hue permeated everything, crumbling his hope. It had to be reality. He'd broken through the barrier. He'd gone the dreaded 500 again. He glanced back at Isobel with her softly glowing headlights, amber and sentient. It was damned creepy how he was beginning to think of the car as a she, not a machine. One that brought him here only to watch him walk away again. Her mistake, he decided with a mental shrug.

The shadowy shapes were people, but somehow not. They had no smell, but he could sense color coming from them: purples and greens, yellows and blues. Their eyes reflected and gleamed like felines.

“Fuck,” Stein growled under his breath and quickened his step. When he reached the main thorough-way, he looked left and right. His hopes sank faster than a fully laden oil tanker in an even blacker sea.

The streetlights, the glow from shops, even the flicker of pocket lighters—all red, dotted with twisted dried tendrils of paper in the silent wind. He wasn't back, not in the normal sense. Just as he was determining that fact on his own, a woman walked right through him and jumped, letting out a sharp cry. He turned to see her struggle to carry on, as if her bag was suddenly so heavy she didn't know if she'd make it back to the apartment without passing out. She'd been drinking Chardonnay. Her lipstick tasted like blackberry. Her name was Gina. She wasn't important, but he knew all of that in an instant. It was like her memories were partially uploaded to his mind, in that small block of time where they shared the same space. Stein shook his head to clear the abrupt recollections from another person's mind. She was dying too, he knew. A festering cancer cluster, deep in her larynx. She'd smoked for years and didn't know—he gritted his teeth.

“Jesus. Shut up!” He said to himself on the sidewalk, but no one as much even glanced in his direction. His nose perked. The scent of fresh-brewed coffee. He sniffed the air and followed the trail around the corner to a cafe by the same time: Around the Corner. Catchy. He ducked inside as a man held the door open for a distracted woman. Everywhere—bodies. All over—the sound of life. The teem and gusto of a thriving civilization and the gentle saw of subdued electric guitar, tuned for blues.

He didn't know what touching other people meant, or why he'd had those hallucinations about the dying woman that passed through his form as if he were air. He may as well been, for no one acknowledged him, asked him what time it was, or discussed what the Yankees were doing this year. The waitress never stopped for him, to ask him what he would like to order. His mouth was salivating at the smell of coffee, newspapers, and cigarette smoke. It was impossible to have one without the other. Coffee and aggression, tea and Zen, and there. A newspaper, left unattended. He read the date.

It was the exact day of his death.

The artist on stage with the blues guitar stood and the small crowd clapped politely. Said his name was Ringo Johnson, and if anyone wanted to buy an album, they could have the entire thing at 25% off if they mentioned this show.

A sight from the corner of his eye drew his attention and he paid it tribute when he saw her. She was of caramel complexion; one of those fresh faces, perhaps Hispanic, perhaps Italian, Greek—she could have been a number of things. Her hair was almost black except for the mahogany highlights. Natural. Curls descended over her shoulders and trailed down her back like wild grapevine. But what really caught his eye was the raw and bleeding stumps of gristle and bone protruding from her back, right around her shoulder blades. They were there one minute and gone the next, and then back again. A flicker of image, or a memory. Stein rubbed his eyes.

Craziness.

She clutched a paper cup of steaming coffee, slowing her step to take a tentative sip and then resumed her pace. The tables were tiny. The chair across from her remained vacant until a gentleman leaned down to say something into her ear over the music. She nodded, and he whisked the free chair away to another table.

She seemed different from the others in the place; a calm surrounded her as if a wind were blowing in dizzying circles but not a hair strayed out of place on her head. The Blues stopped, jolting Stein. Dead quiet, and then the gradual build up of conversational hum again, swelling to encompass all trains of thought. So many hearts beating in one place. Stein wanted to clamp his hands over his ears, but it wouldn't do any good.

Her gaze drifted up and locked with his, causing her to jump up from her seat. She backed up, bumping into a smoker standing by the door, his cigarette trickling ashes to the floor. His coffee sloshed in the cup. Stein heard that too. The woman breezed under the arm of an astonished man holding the door and out into the street. Stein followed, carefully brushing through the crowd, making each and every person he touched erupt in instant chills.

When he reached the curb, she was standing out there, fumbling with keys. She had to see him. Her reaction to his presence was far too anxious to be coincidental. He closed his eyes and melted through the solid door of the Honda to re-emerge in her passenger seat. It was a nasty, creepy feeling. He imagined a metallic taste and made a face.

"Can you see me?" He asked, but she was busy with starting the car to burn out from the curbside parking spot. She glanced back, made a little sound and switched on the heater. "C'mon lady, you looked at me."

Her cellphone was in the console. Stein nudged it, jostling it loud enough for her to hear. She gasped and covered it with her hand. All he accomplished was scaring her more, so he relaxed and lay back in the seat, watching the road ahead of them. The radio played softly under the full blast of the heater. It wasn't Jazz, and that was alright with him.

3 comments:

Marisa Birns said...

I have coffee, no ciggies since I never have smoked, and your story.

This look at another wonderful area in your imagination was truly enjoyable.

I really like how you write, how you build a world with such clear, vivid descriptions and characters that I can imagine myself right there as an extra in the scene.

And you certainly know how to end a chapter, leaving reader wanting to turn the page to see what happens next!

Carrie said...

These are pieces from my WIP, "500". I had a few readers following the story and decided to toss out a bone.

It's about a man that discovers his whole life is a mistake. He's not supposed to have ever survived past birth. Then he finds out why and has to make a very nasty decision.

It became an ingrained habit when I used to participate in collaborative writing. I learned the art of the 'cliffhanger' I guess is what you'd call it, since each post was a little story in itself.

Hey, thanks for stopping by Marisa. Have a great day.

Pamila Payne said...

This is my favorite of all these Stein posts. It's the tightest. I love all the hallucinatory weirdness in the other pieces, but this one really moves. And yes, the end drives us on.