Without Buster

Hello folks, another short story I wrote a couple years back. I was playing around with some different narration techniques and a genre I’d never written in before. Read and enjoy, I received a lot of critic praise for this one.


It was a gloomier day than normal, it seemed; bleak and fat clouds lumbered their way across a pale sky in the early hours of the morning. The birds refused to sing: why should they? It was, in fact a sad day, an unfair day. Yesterday had been both these things too, but it seemed the world shared in Mark’s feelings this time.

Clinging Buster close to his chest, the small, stocky boy sat in the playroom and pondered glumly. Yesterday was an awful day at school, especially for Buster. And it was unfair, all of it! Buster had been there for Mark since forever, and it was not fair that Buster couldn’t continue to be so.

Why do I have to leave you at home? Mark inquired to the well-loved bunny, looking down over an extended lip at the soft fuzzy face of his bestest friend in the dim light. Buster said nothing in response, instead staring ahead and trying to put on a strong display for his friend. It was the same strong face Buster adopted every time Mark needed it, and there were many times. The time when Mark fell and really hurt his head, or the time that grandma was really very sick, or the time when dad wouldn’t stop crying.

It wasn’t fair! Buster was a big help at school; sometimes the lesson about numbers wouldn’t make much sense and Mark would start to fret. Buster was there to help calm him down and remind him that everything happens in little hops. And how was he going to remember the name of all those states without Buster to sing along with him?! IT’S NOT FAIR!

Again, Buster didn’t respond. But he didn’t need to. Buster knew that right now he just needed to listen. That’s what Mark needed most right now, someone to just listen. There was always so much talking happening all the time. On the TV, in the classroom, on the bus and in the grocery store. Talking and noise and noise and talking and noise! This room was just the way that Mark liked it. It was quiet. It needed to be quiet sometimes, why did everything have to make so much noise all the time?

Mark looked over at the worn wooden train tracks that circled him. Buster loved these colourful trains: maybe he could play with the trains while Mark went to school. Buster would like that, but the little boy did not. Why was it that he had to leave Buster behind, someone he needed and couldn’t live without, but some of the girls were allowed to bring their friends with them to school? None of the other boys made fun of the girls for that reason, and the teacher didn’t insist that Maggie and Flitter-Butter had to stay home. So why did Buster have to stay home?

Why does everyone hate you so much? Mark asked quite earnestly, incredibly puzzled at the notion that no-one else saw how important Buster was. He stretched his arms out and held his friend aloft before him, those small button eyes looking a little more sad than usual. I don’t want to leave you behind, Buster. Who else is going to help me read during recess?

Perhaps the answer was a little more simple than Mark had anticipated, or maybe it was because he didn’t like the answer. It was kind of a scary answer, actually. An answer that made the small blonde boy angrily push Buster away, a defiant “NO” echoing through the pink plaster room. Buster bounced and flopped across the floor, bopping his little black nose against the musty-smelling chair where dad used to bedtime stories.

There was a stir from up the stairs at the side the room, the scrape of a plate on a glass table. But Mark sat in silence, staring at Buster, just lying there on the floor. His tall ears wrapped around the chair leg, white fur gathering the brown dust that floated around from under the chair. He wasn’t looking at Mark, and Mark wasn’t looking at him. Instead, the little boy had folded his arms across his chest and stared down at his red and yellow striped shirt.

I don’t want to. Mark feebly tried to think up a good reason why, but the best he could fathom was it’s too hard and it’s scary. Buster listened, and probably quietly agreed, not that Mark could tell, what with his refusal to look at his friend. A memory flashed to the front of his mind, replaying the scenes of yesterday. The teacher taking Buster away, and James and Tyler throwing Buster into the dirt because Buster was just a girly toy.

Buster was not just a toy! Buster was his friend! His friend…

Scrambling over to his poorly discarded friend and hugged him tightly, Mark apologized while tears stung his eyes. But Buster understood. This was difficult, this was tough. Sometimes, though, things got tough. And that was what Buster was there for: the tough times.

The bus was very nearly here; Mark would have to leave soon. Clamber up the stairs and make his way out to the big yellow bus. But he was supposed to leave Buster behind this time. He didn’t want to, but Buster’s words rang in his mind:

It’s time for change.

Once more, Mark looked into Buster’s eyes. They seemed a little more hopeful now. Maybe it was time to be strong and brave, to leave Buster behind. Perhaps that was what Mark needed to do now. But, then again, who would he talk to? If not for Buster, Mark wasn’t sure he could even find the courage to go to school.

“Hey, Champ? The bus is just down the street,” dad called from up the stairs. Mark looked at Buster, Buster at Mark. He smiled a sad little smile: he knew what his choice had to be.

It was time for change.

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The Whyte Gears Articles: A Project

I like to fancy myself a writer: indeed, I have been writing (mostly fiction) for the better part of my life. I can remember writing little stories with a friend of mine back when I was in grade 1, and it’s been something of a passion of mine for quite some time. Back in 2011, I published my first novel: Galaxy 2,000,000,000 Darkness Falls. While it wasn’t exactly the commercial miracle I had hoped it would be at the time, I don’t regret publishing it.

And while I have been hard(ly) at work on the sequel, ideas and concepts for new books keep popping into my mind like you wouldn’t believe. And so, I’ve concocted a plan to stem some of the flow of these ideas, as well as test out a potential business model that I’d like to pursue (in fact, this whole blog is a testing site for that; more on that another day).

And so, I shall be working on a little story series that’ll be published to this blog once a week, Thursdays at 5:30pm Eastern Time Zone. All the entries will be (ideally) located under a separate page titled The Whyte Gear Articles, and assuming I’ve set up the pages accordingly, should contain a series of sub-pages for each chapter of the story.

At present time, it’s looking to be a 10 chapter story. This will possibly change based on plot developments or demand. We’ll see.

The first story will be a steampunk mystery/horror, and if you want more details, be sure to check out the page later this afternoon when it publishes. It’s also worth noting that, while all the characters and content of this work will be original, I’m leaving it with a Creative Commons licence.

If you’re interested, I’d encourage you to check it out and read the story as it unfolds. Comments and critiques will be welcomed and, in fact encouraged; as well as feedback if these kinds of stories would be something you’d be interested in supporting in the future (preferably monetarily, but, again again, more on that later).

At the very least, it should be a fun little exercise for myself and an interesting distraction for you, dear reader. I’ll be putting somewhere on this blog a following option so that you can see when the next post updates (but pending unforeseen circumstances, it should be fairly regularly).

Thanks for tuning in; hope to see you again!

~Self

The Sacrifice

The following is a piece I wrote for a short-story writing contest I participated in. Incidentally, I largely consider this one a point of pride and a point of shame. Pride because I was able to pull together something riveting and thrilling in about an hour, shame because it was overly ambitious and I consider it the story that failed to get me to the third round.

Never the less, it’s a good piece that I felt inclined to share. I’m also leaving this open as a creative commons license, so yeah, that’s a thing. Enjoy. 

It was the only safe place she could find at this moment: the ramshackle, white-washed shed, half sunk in the mud. It’s ochre peak barely visible from the tall stalks of corn that surrounded it, a dilapidated, ghostly relic, forgotten by time. In the past, this had been her hideaway when the cultists’ ceremonies got to her too much, but now…

“Divine vassal: this game of hide and seek is something I grow weary of,” a shrill voice called from somewhere behind Sendra, followed by a throaty cackle over the sounds of a truck engine. Panic was gripping at her heart as she stumbled over the broken fence and through the mud. Sludge clung to her feet, the raw wear-patches around her ankles stinging viciously as blood mixed with dirt. The door was just ahead. Maybe in there she could find something to defend herself with. Charging towards the door through the rain, she did her best to keep her footing upon the slick ground. All the while, the engine grew louder and louder, and that horrid cackling more and more intense.

She reached the door very nearly at the same time the black pick-up truck broke through the fields. Like an unholy demon, its jet black paint seemingly swallowing the light. And staring at her from the driver’s window was Master Reevis, so gaunt he very well may have been a skeleton. He smiled a wicked toothy grin, “My my my,” and revved the engine.

He intended to ram her! Clutching the rusted door handle and pulling with all her might, Sendra screamed in defiance as the great black beast came barreling towards her with ungodly speed. The door screeched ever so slightly giving way. Inch by inch it seemed to creep as the truck sped at her. It wouldn’t work!

Glancing back just in time, Sendra threw herself aside as the truck plowed through the heavy wooden doors, a marvelous shower of splinters and nails peppering the area, snipping at the girls barely protected form while she listened to the spectacular crash. Peeking over her arms, she could see clearly inside the barn: Master Reevis had driven right into a cement wall, flattening the front of his truck. Yet his one leg poked out, a thin stick with oversized rubber boots, and it pawed its way towards the straw-covered ground.

“Refreshing,” Master Reevis mummered as he squirmed his way free of the wreckage. Yet something glinted in the light that trickled into the open building: a glint of metal lay upon the floor. Was that a gun? Yes! And it was well out of Master Reevis’ grasp!

With a grunt of pain, Sendra pulled herself to her feet and scrambled to it, clawing her way forward to the only means of saving herself at this point. A shotgun, partially rusted but very likely loaded, pointed her way. It had flown from the truck cab when Reevis hit the wall. And she was nearly there, very nearly—

A moan caught her attention. It didn’t come from the truck, rather the opposite direction. First Sendra’s eyes crept that way, then her whole head turned. Her normally dark skin went pale as she saw what her fate was to be. Her twin sister, Alii, was there. A macabre scarecrow, wooden beams forced through her arms and out of her mouth in sick crucifixion. The blood that the rough wood readily drank was fresh, and the young girl twitched. Good God, she was still alive: her eyes sobbed as she moaned helplessly and watched Sendra upon the ground. Her eyes screamed one thing: run!

“United at last, a heart wrenching reunion!” Reevis shrieked, finally working himself free from the truck. Something was clutched in his right hand as he stared unblinkedly at the girls, “Now the ceremony can be complete: the twins born under the blue moon shall send my soul unto the heavens, and I shall be a god!”

She could fathom no words, but instead gasped her way towards the shotgun once again. There was a blur of motion from the corner of her eye and a heavy spike imbedded itself into the back of her hand. Sendra shrieked and recoiled it, looking back at Master Reevis. He had thrown one of the broken door’s nails at her, and held another in his hand. In the other, he clutched a drawing. Half of a painting she had made from when she was six. Sendra was on the right, and Alii’s half was stapled to her chest.

“Come now, child: we musn’t keep the spirits waiting,” Reevis whispered, leaning in towards her. His pale white robe very nearly invisible from the rain earlier, his naked body beneath well beyond emaciated. He almost seemed to creak like an old oak in the wind as he reached forward.

But this would not be Sendra’s fate. She ripped the spike from her hand and stabbed it at Reevis, plunging the spike deep into his chest. He staggered back, a grimace of disappointment flashing across his cracked lips as the young girl bolted for the gun. Just as she was about to reach it, another blur of a thrown nail caught her eye, clipping the side of the gun and sending it spinning off and into the shadows.

It was no use. She’d never be able to find it before he reached her. Instead, Sendra grabbed a fist full of straw and threw it at his face; a slight distraction so that she could run for the door. Back out into the rain and into the corn fields she ran. She ran and ran, the sounds of his laughter trailing just behind the veil of stalks.

But as she ran, she saw something in the distance. An ochre peak, barely visible from the overgrown fields she was in. She had looped around somehow, and a shrill chill ran down her spine as she felt hot breath upon her nape.

“Now where were we?” Reevis asked…

Bordered at the Brink

 

The brink stands before me,

Relentless and foreboding, smacking of all the decisions I never made. Of all the choices I never reached of all the apathy I incurred.

The brink stands before me,

A jagged reminder of the lives that could have been: the destinies and of the destinations and of the desires and the discarded.

The brink stands before me,

All the faces and all the places and all the won races and all the traces of hope and value and accomplishment and triumph.

The brink stands before me,

A villainous blight on all my peers and acquaintances, of turned cheeks and of turned backs. To be shunned or worst yet acknowledged with pity.

The brink looms before me,

I made and bade this foul beast of shapeless forms and yet of unyielding recognition. Did I choose it or did it choose me the question asks.

The brink towers over me,

Fixation fascination frustration agitation aggression resignation retaliation broken.

The brinks swallows me,

What have I done?

Why did I choose this?

It did not choose me.

I chose it.

The brink stands behind me,

It wavers and wails, claws and cries, stamps and stares. Beyond it lies the road that must be taken; a one-way trail with no return.

The brink is no longer my interest,

This road leads to uncertainty. Mastery or misery, joy or jaded, fame or fatality, success or salvation, entrance or end.

I care not, so long as the brink is behind and the road beyond.

 

~~Self

February 2, 2017 // 10:46pm