The Arrogance Will Be Costly

old swing

 

“Is this it? Is this…all that’s left?”  Jakob asked. The villagers stood among the remnants, stricken with fear, dumbfounded.

They gathered in the center of what was left the playground. The jungle gym—once only a few crossties with heavy, knotted ropes for climbing—was mostly gone; only the support beams protruded from the grass, the edges jagged and sharp, like broken toothpicks.

“And that—what is that over there?” said Josiah, his voice trembling.

“Is that…my god, is that a shoe?” someone deeper in the crowd exclaimed.

A blonde-haired woman broke from the throng to grab the shoe. “No, no, no! Not Kamyra! Not my baby…!” she screeched, clutching the shoe to her chest.  A man tore himself from the group and went to the woman, wrapping his arms around her and stroking her hair.  For a moment, there was only the sound of the wind cutting through the trees and the wails of the woman with the shoe.

Abruptly, a question cut through her grief.  “Where’s the sandbox?” The loud whisper came from Kaitlin.  She stood with her jaw set and her shoulders square, a pillar in the midst of chaos, but the shudder in her voice reverberated throughout the crowd, and the villagers pulled closer together.  “The sandbox?” she asked again, extending her hands beseechingly.

Heads turned left and right, but no one responded.

Another villager pointed to the clearing near the tree line.  “Is that…the swing?

Jakob pulled away from the others to an object that was half-rammed into the ground.  It was the old swing.  He pulled it up with a yank.  All that was left was a bit of chain attached to the fractured wooden seat.  Teeth marks had made an ugly, ragged curve in the wood, and it was splattered with fresh blood and bits of flesh.

Kaitlin whipped around to the village elder.

“Do you see now?  Do you believe now?” she shrieked, her fear turned to fury.

The elder remained motionless, unable to move or speak.

“Perhaps you will give the offering next season, Elder?” Jakob spat, his eyes ablaze in rage.  “And maybe you will not be so wise?  So callous?” He waved the broken, bloodied swingseat wildly. “Shall we appease them, next season, Elder?” he repeated, his voice rising.  “Or will you  imagine still that they do not exist?”

The elder threw himself on the ground and at the feet of his wayward flock, he screamed for forgiveness.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  © ELIZABETH MICHAUD JOHN

Advertisements

Light for the Damned

Light for the damned

 

“Will you be good?”

She nodded, whimpering.

He squinted his eyes, unconvinced.

He leaned closer.  “Will…you…be…good?”  He spat each word, his rank breathe filling her tiny space with dread.

“Yes, yes, a million times, yes!”  She trembled, sending tremors through the chains.

He straightened himself and nodded.  He turned the key in the lock, releasing the cuffs. “Alright then.  Go.”

She scrambled up the stairs, and then pushed up the cellar door.  As she curled her fingers around the edges of the opening, light touched them, and she sucked in her breath.  She boosted herself up through the door and rushed to the window.  Her shoulder scraped the teeth of the rake, drawing blood, but she didn’t notice.  Instead, she hurried to the window frame, and pushed her face against the glass. The brightness on the other side made her eyes water and burn, but she soaked it in.

She basked in it.

She pressed her palms onto the pane.  Oh, the light, she thought, the wonderful light

“It’s time.”

What?!” His voice cut through her reverie like a jagged, serrated knife.

He walked to her with a slow but deliberate steps.  “There’s blood on my window.”

“What?  No, I didn’t, I was good—“  she protested, but then she saw it.  Blood had dripped down from her shoulder and stained the glass.  Her eyes widened in horror.  “No, please, no!  I was good!  I was being  goo—“

His lips curled upward, revealing yellow, jagged teeth.  He moved in, bringing his face inches from hers.  “You know I don’t like mess, little girl,” he snarled.

Her skin puckered in goose-flesh at his dark declaration, and tears welled in her eyes. “But I just got here!” she shrieked.  “I just got some light!  Please—“

“It’s time.”

“Oh, god, please! Not yet, not again—“

He yanked her by the hair and the chains, and dragged her screaming back into the darkness.

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  © ELIZABETH MICHAUD JOHN

Song of Chains

Clink, clink, clink, clink, clink

Clank, clank, clank, clank, clank

 

There’s a song inside my head

That I’d like to sing:

‘Bout birds flying free

‘Bout lettin’ freedom ring

 

Clink, clink, clink, clink, clink

Clank, clank, clank, clank, clank

 

There’s a song inside my heart

That I’d like to sing:

‘Bout how I once stood tall and straight

When once I was a king

 

Clink, clink, clink, clink, clink

Clank, clank, clank, clank, clank

 

There’s a song deep in my soul

That I wish that I could sing!

‘Bout when I was a warrior

Not some property, not some thing

 

But that clink, clink, clink, clink, clink

And that clank, clank, clank, clank, clank—

That’s the song that’s in my ears:

That’s the sound that them chains make

 

Clink, clink, clink, clink, clink

Clank, clank, clank, clank, clank

 

That’s the song that’s all around

That’s the tune they like to sing:

How they’ll keep me here in bondage

‘Til my death when freedom rings

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  © ELIZABETH MICHAUD JOHN

 

Growing Up in 2012

Wow, has it really been a year since I started this blog???

Well, actually, the fact of the matter is…no, it hasn’t.  (Hahaha!)

I started this blog in May, so clearly, I’m a few months shy of a year.  But, for the sake of being in tune with the rest of the end-of-year countdowns and rembrances, I thought I’d play along with everybody else.  I mean, why not?  Granted, it hasn’t been exactly twelve calendar months since I started blogging, but regardless, I have been writing actively for the past year, so why not celebrate and commemorate it?  One thing I’ve learned this year is that it is hard work writing and maintaining a blog, and despite the many ups and downs, highs and lows, I have not given up.  I continued, I pushed on, I perservered, and most importantly, I grew.

I can honestly say that I’m happy with that, mainly because it turned out to be, for me, the big surprise in 2012: that blogging would help me grow as a writer.  It’s the last thing that I ever expected to happen, but the first thing I can now look forward to next year as I continue to write.  When I think back to my first (horrible) post and compare it to my most recent post, the improvement is almost tangible.  In these months that I have been writing my blog, I found my voice, I narrowed in on a particular style of writing, and I found the purpose and reason for maintaining the blog to begin:  a writing showcase.

And in that spirit, I’m excited to revisit and share some of my  favorite posts, mainly because, just like looking through a photograph of childhood pictures, I want to reflect on how I’ve grown up in 2012.

I am the Doorman

This was the  first post where I thought  there might be some hope for me as a blogger.  It wasn’t some stupid rant about what I was doing with this blog, but rather,  a moment to write about something and someone else other than me:  the class of 2012.  It was my way of wishing my students well as they took their first real steps into adulthood.  It probably could have still used some polish, but all in all, I think it came out okay.

This Post is about Nothing

I like this post because it was the first time I truly understood that I had to have a clear objective when writing blog posts:  there has to be a point, otherwise, why bother?  There are so many blogs in the sphere that have no direction or point.  Clearly, I’m no genius or expert at blog writing, but nonetheless, I had a happy moment when the idea of writing with a clear and defined purpose really sank in. This really helped me define my blog writing moving forward, and I think I started to improve quickly after that.

Finding Horror

My first guest post!  I  got tapped by the illustrious Edward Lorn himself to write for his blog, Ruminating On and it was pretty cool, I have to say.  It all worked out well, too, because he happened to tap me to write on his blog just as I was pondering the horrific and ugly nature of something that I had seen online and that had pushed me to write a poem about it.  I was exponentially angry when I wrote this particular poem, and in my anger, I happened to narrate it in the voice of the “bad guy”, if you will, and to me, it actually made it more scary—truly, it was a dark piece of work, and certainly, I would classify it as horror.  In any case, in my post, I wrote about how I came to write this poem, and write horror in general.  Mr. Lorn writes horror (is damn good at it, by the way), and the topic of that particular blog post, I think, was just perfect.

All That I Am

This was the moment where I really started coming to terms with this new path I’m on in my life with my writing.  Sometimes it’s not always easy to embrace all the aspects of the person that you are or strive to be, and this was my attempt to come to deal with that.   Not a bad thing to do, let me tell you.

Also, did I mention that this was the first time I successfully introduced a video into a blog post???  Hey, it may not be big news to you, but it was totally awesome for me….(silly, I know).

Introducing...

Ah, this post was as much for me as it was for my dear friend, Francis F. Keating.  It was here, with these words, that I felt I turned  a corner in that I was helping a fellow writer make his own mark into the literary world, one that was a long-time coming yet well-deserved. Writing is a difficult market to break into, so whenever someone can give a helping hand—however big or small—it can be very helpful.  Certainly, it’s a wonderful ego boost, and for Francis, it was the least I could do.

Plus, it was just fun to reminisce about our college days—who doesn’t like doing that?

Just a Quick Word

And this post, although it’s the shortest post I’ve ever written, is hands-down the most important, because it’s here where I thank everyone who takes a moment to read my blog.  Building a readership is no small task, so it’s wonderful every time someone stops by my blog to read and comment.  I don’t know that there is anyone who writes without an audience in mind, without hoping for an audience to read their work and that I myself actually have one makes me grateful to no end.  I hope that next year, in 2013, you’ll continue on with me and my little journey and find the ride to be enjoyable.

Wishing you a safe and Happy New Year!  See you January!

EMJ

Coven

girl with red hair

 

“Go and get the girl.”

At the sight of her, the women shouted their cries and catcalls.

“She makes men fall to their feet!” cried one.

“She sings the songs of the wicked!” shrieked another.

“She does the black magic!” still another persisted.

“It’s true because she has the red hair of the devil’s wife!”  This from someone on the girl’s left.

“Yes, the devil’s wife!”  This echoed from someone on the girl’s right.

“His filthy bride—a red-haired demon she is!”

They dragged her to the chair and then flocked around.  The flames from the torches lurched and pitched, their crackling lights lengthening the shadows of the gathered into grotesque shapes. The oldest among them, Prudence, separated herself from the group.  “We are all in agreement then?”

The women nodded, and then kneeled.

“Our red-haired sister, we are at your service.”

Behind the drape of her long red hair, the girl looked up and smiled.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  © ELIZABETH MICHAUD JOHN

No Price Too High

old box 2

She slammed the lid shut and then twisted the lock.

“What you gon’ do now?” he asked her.

“Save it for my grandbaby.”  She caressed the lid, but her eyes were hard, her smile grim. “He gon’ ask me one day, what dat freedom cost.  He gonna ask, and when he do, I’ll show him.”

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  © ELIZABETH MICHAUD JOHN.

Like what you’ve read? Then check out this and other great 55-word stories at  Austin Briggs Flash Fiction Contest

Thanks for reading!

The Evil Among Them

       

The news was tragic:  the girl had killed herself.

They talked about it in the hallways, between classes.

“All because of those rumors,” some said.

“But if they weren’t true, then why?” others countered.

Amidst the gossip and speculation, he giggled.  In his pocket, he stroked her locket.

    They’ll never know.  It’ll be our secret.

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  © ELIZABETH MICHAUD JOHN.

Like what you’ve read? Then visit Austin Briggs Flash Fiction Contest and give this story a “thumbs-up”!

Thanks for reading!