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 Disorientation

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Gomez
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PostSubject: Disorientation   Sat Aug 16, 2008 6:59 pm

February 6th

Unpacking, Claire thought, was always an unpleasant task, but it was twice as bad with a three year old son to help. Currently, Devin was carefully removing packing peanuts from a box marked FRAGILE and arranging them artistically on the mantle. As the mantle was a good eighteen inches above his eye level, he never could have accomplished it had Claire not fortuitously left the $600 Sony stereo there for him to use as a step-stool.

"Devin-no!" she barked as she ran to lift his 50lb frame off of the machine. The word "Devin-no!" had been the most frequently used in her vocabulary since he learned to walk at the early age of 12 months, to her great pride at the time and constranation a month later when he perfected the art.

Devin was momentarily annoyed at the rude interruption of his work, but then turned his attention toward unpacking a box of serving spoons, ladles, and spatulas, and placing them in the entertainment center with great care.

She shook her head and returned to her work setting up the CD rack. She was proud of her collection of CDs. She had purchased the top-selling album every year since 1989, and had listened to most of them; some all the way through. Her movie collection was equally impressive. She owned all the animated Disney movies that had ever been released on DVD, including two that were still unwrapped: Alice in Wonderland, which she never liked at so saw no point in watching, and The Secret of N.I.M.H., which she realized after she had bout it was not actually a Disney film.

---to be continued. Yes, it gets better, this is just the introduction.
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Arkhum
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PostSubject: Re: Disorientation   Sun Aug 17, 2008 10:39 am

OMG. There's no way it's been 3 years already. Shocked . But we've only just congratulated you. What the........ scratch
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PostSubject: Re: Disorientation   Mon Aug 18, 2008 6:20 am

Mrr? Not sure what you're talking about Arkhum, sorry. Anyhow, on with the story:

---
At 5:14 by the mantle clock, as usual, her husband came home. He kept very regular hours for a Realtor. She heard the door open and shut, and then the usual creak of his favorite chair. She reflected how comforting familiar sounds were in a new house as she brought her husband, Tom, his customary mug of instant coffee.

She hadn't quite gotten used to the new house yet, and had to deliberately remember whether the living room was right or left from the hallway. It was right. The den and stairs to the second floor were left. It would take time to get accustomed to such a large home.

There were advantages to having a real estate agent for a husband. Their house had been a steal at $60,000. It was easily worth three times that. It's old arts-and-crafts architecture gave it a quaint and elegant feel but the recent remodel in 1989 had brought all the wiring up to code, and then some. The thermostat was computerized and fully programmable, and so was the stove, and she couldn't imagine ever filling up all the space in the double-door refrigerator. From the water filtration system to the surround-sound speakers hidden in the corners of the living room, the house perfected luxury into an art form.

The house was technically a three-bedroom, two-story, single family place, but the attic and full basement were both spacious and the addition of a ceiling in the attic was not a daunting project, nor was pouring a concrete floor for the basement; and the though it was true that the house only had nine rooms (not counting the three bathrooms), the rooms were all very large, and the dining room and master bedroom were palatial.

"How was work, dear?" she said, as she always did when she handed Tom his coffee, and when he had finished saying whatever he said about houses and clients and things, and came to her cue, "How was yours?" she said "Fine" and smiled.

---to be continued. The interesting part starts in the next chapter, I promise.
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PostSubject: Re: Disorientation   Tue Aug 19, 2008 2:12 am

Arkhum wrote:
OMG. There's no way it's been 3 years already. Shocked . But we've only just congratulated you. What the........ scratch

Wait... disorientation, indeed. It can't be three years already.. whaat?
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PostSubject: Re: Disorientation   Tue Aug 19, 2008 6:09 am

What is everyone even talking about?

Anyhow, on with the story:

---

February 7th

The first week spent in a new home is always strange, when you're not quite used to the layout of the house yet, and are only half unpacked. Often, you think you're at the bathroom door, but when you open it, it's a closet, and just as often you open what you expect to be a box of dishes and it turns out to be books.

Claire suddenly remembered that the peppermill was upstairs. Devin had helped them pack by putting it in a box of pajamas, and they were too tired to correct the error at the time. Now it was 5:10 and the pork chops were nearly done, and Tom would be home soon. She flipped the chops one last time and trotted upstairs to get the peppermill.

She found the pajama box at the far side of the bed and retrieved the peppermill just as she heard Tom shut the front door.

As she hurried down the stairs with the mill in hand, she suddenly became very confused. The floor at the bottom was dirt. The den didn't have a dirt floor. When she reached the bottom, she realized she was in the basement. Why was she in the basement? The stairs in the den didn't go down to the basement, only up to the hall. As she stood bewildered feeling the butterflies scramble in her stomach, she heard Tom's worried voice call from up the stairs. "Honey?"

She turned and saw him looking down at her from the trap-door in the pantry. "Are you all right?" he asked.

"Fine," she said with practiced ease.

"Then why the cold reception?" he asked with very little annoyance in his voice.

She didn't have a line in her daily script to cover this situation. "What?" she asked.

"You could at least have said 'hi' instead of walking right past me like that -- twice. What do you need a trowel for down there anyway?"

"Trowel?"

Tom was never very good at disguising his frustration, but he drew a breath and calmly asked again, "Honey, why are you carrying a trowel?"

She looked down at the peppermill she had brought from the bedroom and found that it was not a peppermill at all, but a trwoel that was in the front garden when they moved in.

In the awkward conversation that followed, Claire slowly came to realize that Tom believed that he had seen her come out of the den with the mill, set it on the lampstand, go out the front door without a word to him, and presently return with the trowel to ignore him again on her way down the trapdoor. She, of course, knew she didn't, but the evidence was stacked against her, seeing as she was, in fact, in the basement with an old, rusty, metal-handled trowel, and the peppermill was discovered to be on the lampstand just as Tom had alleged.

Tom ate his slightly overcooked chop in sullen silence that evening.

---to be continued. In my opinion, this is where it starts to get interesting.
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PostSubject: Re: Disorientation   Tue Aug 19, 2008 6:52 pm

[quote="Gomez"]What is everyone even talking about?

[quote]


Well I'm talking about how you had a little one, not too long ago (as I recall), and we all congratulated you on GB forums. If that's the child you are referring to in this hilarious story, I was just amazed that it's been 3 years already. Sorry love, working on my memory as days go by.
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PostSubject: Re: Disorientation   Tue Aug 19, 2008 9:37 pm

Oh, I see. No, Darien is in no way related to the 3-year-old Devin in this story. I wrote it before he was born, or even conceived. I guess the names are kind of similar, though.

Anyhow, on with the story:

---
When night fell, she retired to bet at 9:30, just as she always did, but could not sleep. She lay there in her lovely four-poster bed staring at the moonlight reflected off the vanity mirror trying in vain to prod her memory into some vague recollection of ever being anywhere but in a stairwell between the time she found the peppermill and the time when Tom called her.

At 11:39 by her clock-radio, she decided the only sensible thing to do was to go to the bathroom and then go get a glass of milk. She slipped out of bed without waking Tom and walked stealthily across the expanse of plush, maroon carpet between the bed and the adjoining master bathroom. She used the toilet, scrupulously washed her hands, and noticed a movement behind her in the medicine cabinet mirror. She spun around, but saw nothing but an empty master bathroom and a closed bathroom door. She shook her head and wished she could sleep. Her mind always played tricks on her when she couldn't sleep. Maybe that was what happened when Tom came home. Maybe she was just tired. She sighed and walked out the door and down the hall to the kitchen. She was opening the refrigerator when she realized what had happened. The master bathroom was on the second floor, directly above the kitchen. How did she get downstairs?

She retraced her steps back to the door she had come from and opened it, fully expecting to see the master bathroom, but no, it was just the small downstairs water closet; no parquet floor, no Jacuzzi, just a toilet and sink. She went back to the kitchen and got a drink -- now favoring a fifth of bourbon to milk. She had to get some sleep.

Claire woke at 6:44 the next morning, one minute before the alarm went off, as usual. Her heart beat loudly, and she was dimly aware that she had just awakened from a horrifying dream, but she couldn't remember any of it.

She felt a bit apprehensive as she walked down the stairs, but the house's floor-plan remained unaltered and she made her way to the kitchen in the usual way. She began toasting Pop-Tarts and boiling water for coffee and had her husband's frozen waffles on the table by the time he came down.

Tom kissed his wife's cheek as he left for work, briefcase in hand and optimism in his eye.

when Claire went upstairs to wake Devin, she found him tossing in his toddler bed and moaning unintelligibly. "Devin?" she called softly.

Devin shrieked as he woke as only a baby can shriek, and, fixing her with an earnest stare unbecoming his young age, begged her three times, "Mama, no! Don't go down there!" before his words faded into uncontrolled sobbing. He was oblivious to her attempts to calm him and carried on crying until he finally wore himself out and drifted into a more tranquil sleep. He woke several hours later with no apparent recollection of his previous nightmare.

---to be continued.
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PostSubject: Re: Disorientation   Wed Aug 20, 2008 11:58 am

Over the course of the next week, Claire would step from one room to a non-adjoining one at least once a day, and ended up in the basement with a trowel three times.

After an interview with Dr. Henry Aldrich, she received a prescription for a bottle of pale pink pills. They bade her burp and gave her mild headaches, but it would be worth it if she stopped having memory lapses.

The drug seemed to work, and after three days of a consistent layout of her house, Claire was cheerfully folding laundry. When the basket was full, she lifted it and turned to take it upstairs, but when she turned, she found herself face-to-face with a grinning, leering goat-head. She screamed, dropped the laundry and ran backward across the room from the goat-man until she bumped into -- something. She turned to see a baboon-like creature towering over her. It made a low, feral, chortling sound and reached for her. She jumped away and felt a hand on her breast. The got thing was groping her. It grinned in her face madly. She tried to strike it, but her fists flailed in empty air. There was nothing there.

She called Dr. Aldritch and related the episode thorough tears and sobs. He seemed very concerned and said that certain rare allergies to the drug sometimes cause hallucinations. He told her to cease taking it immediately and that she would have a new prescription ready to pick up in the morning.

The new pills were green and made her a little queasy, but didn't give her any hallucinations. She also did not suffer from any memory lapses for a week. And then it happened again. She had just finished putting her stockings in the drawer and turned around to find the bed missing and a bookcase in its place. She was in the den. She checked, and the empty laundry basket was still in her hand. She had meant to bring down what was in the bedroom hamper. she sighed and ascended the stairs only to find her progress impeded at the top by a trap-door. As she paused to orient herself, she noticed that the laundry basket had become heavier. A quick glance revealed that it had also turned into a pail containing a load of dirt and the same obstinate trowel.

The dirt, she thought to herself, as suddenly as it had seemed to appear, still had to have come from somewhere, and she was coming out of the basement, where there was but one logical conclusion. She turned and descended the stairs with some trepidity, and found that a portion of the dirt floor had indeed been broken, and a small amount of the hard, dry earth had been removed. Not having any clear idea what to do with the pail of dirt, she dumped it there where the hole was. It made a small mound, though larger than she expected. She turned to ascend the stairs, but they were missing. No trace of a staircase remained.

A thick, claustrophobic terror blanketed her mind and precluded all action for a brief eternity as she stood, paralyzed with fear, her eyes locked on the empty air where the only point of egress from her basement should have been. When this cold terror began to relax its grip on her heart, allowing it to progress to the more productive state of panic, she shot a glance upward in hopes that the trap door, at least, remained. It did not, but the ceiling was radically altered. It was gabled like a roof. Thinking she must have now reached the attic by the same magic that brought her to the basement, she scanned the floor for a trapdoor there, but it was still dirt. The pail-full she had dumped there remained with the old trowel half buried in it. It wasn't the attic. It was too bright, and the walls were too close. One wall had a door.

A door!

She ran to it, tore it open, and flew through it into the back yard, leaving the detached garage behind as she raced for the back door. She burst into her kitchen and stood panting, searching the room and trying to assure herself that everything was in order and she was safe. When she was satisfied that the kitchen would remain a kitchen, she plopped down in a chair of the dinette set.

Her gaze fell on the Coca-Cola clock on the wall. It was already 4:45! Tom would be home soon, and she hadn't started dinner! Well, twenty minutes was still plenty of time to make steaks and instant potatoes. She started heating a frying pan, the idea of serving dinner late banishing every other fear from her mind.

---to be continued.
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PostSubject: Re: Disorientation   Thu Aug 21, 2008 4:26 am

She had the instant coffee done by the time Tom came home. The steaks were still rare, but would be ready to eat by the time he finished his coffee. She went to the den and yelled up the stairs for Devin to come down and eat, and mentally congratulated herself for serving dinner right on schedule. After dinner Tom took Devin to the park to fly a kite. Claire stayed behind; she still had laundry to do.

By this time she had developed a distrust of stairwells, and she proceeded with caution up the stairs.

There had never been any immediate warning that she had changed from one stairwell to another, as they both had the same green wallpaper with yellow daisies, and the same type of steps, which were redwood and had no front plate, and the same single brass banister on the right hand side going up. However, the one thoroughly, incontrovertibly distinguishing feature between them was the upper doorway. The basement stairs terminated in the trapdoor in the back of the pantry; whereas the upstairs terminated in a small landing with a door to the upstairs hall. Whit this in mind, she kept her eye fixedly on the second floor landing as she crept up. The landing in no way altered as she ascended, almost to her disappointment. She reached the top and breathed a sigh of relief, even as she put her hand on the doorknob and realized she had only cleared one hurdle. The door opened into the upstairs hall, just as it should, but as she began to step through, she noticed ... something out of the corner of her eye, some vague motion that she didn't quite manage to see, but did nonetheless notice. She examined the door-jam, the door, the deep red walls, the plush carpet, and nothing had fallen or moved. It was the same old den that...

Den! Den? She had just left the den! Yet, as she looked back over her shoulder in confusion and dismay, she saw the stairs she had just climbed. She was standing, at once, with one foot upstairs and one downstairs. No memory lapse would account for this!

The first time she had jumped from one part of the house to another, Tom had a rational explanation ready. He said that she had been lots of places between the upstairs and downstairs, but what would he see if he came into the den now, when half of her was downstairs and half upstairs? She resolved to wait where she was -- wherever that may be -- until Tom and Devin came home. She turned her gaze back to the hall ahead of her which was no longer the upstairs hall, but neither was it the downstairs hallway that led from the doorway in the den that she was half-occupying to the kitchen, it was her bedroom. Every time she looked away from a room, it changed. Presumably, her back no longer faced the den, now that she was no longer watching it.

Almost without thinking, she shot out her left arm and caught the shaft of a heavy floor lamp wit ha marble base. Claire was not terribly strong, and knew that she couldn't lift or drag it without effort, so it would provide a suitable anchor, and would not turn into the trowel.

She dropped the basket behind her and turned to see where the right half of her was. She was in the door between the living room and kitchen, facing the kitchen. The stove was directly to her left, so she grabbed a rod that helped support the hood of the stove -- an even better anchor. She chuckled at her own cleverness, as she turned back to the lamp in her bedroom, but, rather than the lamp, she held in her grasp the bare humerus of a worm-infested, almost-human cadaver whose nearly hollow sockets seemed to brighten somehow as it reached out a three-taloned claw toward her with its free arm.

For no longer than a second -- for no longer than a quarter of a second, was she frozen in terror. The necessity to flee quickly overrode every other thought and enveloped her being. Nothing mattered except to put as much distance as possible between herself and that.

She scurried backwards, choking on a stillborn scream. She tripped. She fell backward. Down and down. The horrible thing looked down on her through a retreating trap door, its sagittal crest and the horns on its shoulders clearly silhouetted, as was the claw that was gently waving bye-bye.

There was a flash of sparkley white light. There was darkness. She was in a place; she didn't know where. It was dark, and sticky hot. Although she could see nothing, she knew she was not alone. She could feel a foreign presence slowly, inexorably encroaching on her. She heard breathing and was sure it wasn't hers. It was hollow, distant, and mechanical. There was another sound -- a slow, steady beep like her cell-phone made when she forgot to plug it in. The alien presence began to envelop her, and the beeping grew quicker. Voices chattered something about a patient. The foreign mind that had been creeping up around her suddenly swallowed and she fell into it. She plummeted for unmeasured time and then landed in a soft bed.

---to be continued.
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PostSubject: Re: Disorientation   Thu Aug 21, 2008 11:29 pm

Gomez, please don't stop - I'm totally intrigued

You write beautifully Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Disorientation   Fri Aug 22, 2008 6:31 am

Mrs. Helen, your encouragement goes farther than you may think! Thank you.

On with the story:

"She's coming around," a voice said.

"Stand by with 10 ccs nitro," said another. Slowly, she opened her eyes. She was in a hospital. A kind voice to her right spoke. "Mrs. Larkin? Can you hear me? You're in St. Thomas General Hospital. You're going to be all right now."

"What ... How?" she stammered, trying to formulate a reasonable question, her voice muffled and distorted by a plastic mask over her mouth and nose.

"It's all right," the voice said. She turned and saw that the speaker was a very clean young man with short, brown hair, green eyes, a tan shirt, brown tie, and brilliantly white lab coat. "You fell down the stairs, and hit your head. You had a bad concussion and you were unconscious for over an hour, but you're safe now. I'm Dr. Jankowski and I'm in charge of the neurology clinic. You've had a complete brain scan, and I assure you that you'll make a complete recovery; however, I do need to explain a few things."

The young doctor's voice had a thick, soft, calming property to it that made it impossible to doubt or interrupt him while he spoke, but now he stopped to flip through some papers, and her memories of that afternoon came rushing back. "Devin!" she yelled as she sat straight up in the bed. "Where's Tom and Devin?"

"They're fine! The nurse just went to tell them you just woke up."

"He didn't get them," she sighed.

"Mama?" a small voice asked.

"Hi, sweetie! Hi, Tom! Tom! Did you see him? Was he still there? Devin, he didn't hurt you?"

"Mrs. Larkin," the doctor said, please, try to relax. You've had a bad concussion, and I need to explain some things to you. See this?" he asked holding up a sheet of paper he called an "EEG." He pointed to a part of the picture that looked just like all the rest of the picture, and started talking about the shape and parts of the brain and chemicals and memories and cells and things. He said her memories of the last hour or so before the fall would be a little jumbled and confused. He said it was partly because of the way she started taking the green pills right after she stopped taking the pink pills just before she hit her head and partly because of the part of her head she hit.

She tried to explain to them about the thing she had seen and how it tricked her into falling down teh stairs, but Dr. Jankowski insisted that the story was made of "false memories" and "crossed memories" and that she dreamed up the story about being in two places at once and about the rotting lizard-man corpse after she woke up.

She stayed in the hospital overnight "just to be on the safe side." Dr. Jankowski gave her some small yellow pills and told her to take those instead of the green ones for two weeks, and then go back to the green ones.

---to be continued.
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PostSubject: Re: Disorientation   Fri Aug 22, 2008 6:44 pm

As life settled back into a comfortable routine, Claire came to accept that she hadn't really warped from one part of the house to the next, nor seen any unearthly creatures, just had bad reactions to psychotropic drugs and had her mind scrambled by a bad spill.

One day, about noon, when Tom was at work and Devin was napping, a man came to the door. He had a neatly pressed blue uniform and gentle, wise eyes. He said he was a city home inspector. A neatly arranged tool-belt hung around his waist and he wore the air of a man very competent in his field. "Just a routine check, ma'am," he said, somewhat apologetically, "I'm checking the basements of the houses in the immediate vicinity for a bad leak. Mind if I check?"

Claire led him down the stairs. He was a nice man. He was one of those types that you just trusted right away. In the basement, she was surprised to see that a sizable hole had been dug -- not very deep, only about eight inches, but nearly seven feet across and perfectly round.

The inspector looked troubled. "Oh, yes..." he muttered, "This area's definitely been contaminated. I can smell it already."

Claire sniffed the air, but detected nothing out of the ordinary. "Is it dangerous?"

"Not if it's taken care of promptly. I'll need to be down here for an hour or so. I do hope it's no great inconvenience."

"No!" she said, shifting her weight from one foot to the other. "I try not to come down here, anyway. Would you like some coffee, or anything?"

"No coffee, thank you, but could I trouble you for a glass of water?"

"Sure. I'll be right back."

The inspector accepted the glass of triple-filtered water with a polite 'thank-you' and encouraged her to go on about her daily routine. She returned to the kitchen, glad to be out of the basement, but still curious about the odd excavation. On a hunch, she checked the garage. There was quite a sizable mound of dirt in the middle of the floor, and a pail and trowel sitting neatly beside.

She backed out of the garage and shut the door. She spent a few moments pondering -- she must have dug that hole without knowing it. She would have to tell Dr. Aldrich the medication wasn't working.

She sighed and crossed the yard to the back door, all the while experiencing the uneasy feeling of someone watching her. Even when she locked the kitchen door behind her, the feeling persisted, and came and went over the course of the next hour.

When an hour an a half had passed, she began to wonder about the inspector and went to ask if he would be much longer. But, when she approached the open trapdoor, she heard a voice behind her.

"Mama, no!" Devin had awakened from his nap and was standing at the doorway clutching his blanket with his eyes wide and his face white.

"Oh, sweetie! Did you have a bad dream?"

She went to him and reached down to pick him up, but, as she reached for him, he screamed and fled.

"Devin?" She ran after him. He turned left, toward the den and downstairs bathroom, and she followed right behind him, but as she rounded the corner and looked down the hall, Devin was not there, but she thought she could hear him crying upstairs.

"Devin?" The sound faded as she raced up the stairs. He was not in his room, nor the library, nor her bedroom, nor the spare bedroom.

"Devin!"

"Mama!"

Devin stood in the hallway behind her. She picked him up and he put his tiny arms around her neck. "Devin! Why'd you run away like that?"

"He scared me."

"Who? I was the only one there."

"He scared me!" Devin insisted as he began to cry. It was futile to quetion him further. After she held and rocked him for a few minutes, he settled down to simply sniffling and whimpering and was content to lie on his toddler bed to rest.

"I'll be right back sweetie." She intended to go check on the home inspector and then come see if Devin was coherant enough to explain himself yet.

As she walked down the hall, Devin stopped making noise. It was startlingly, unnaturally sudden. He hadn't been whimpering loudly, but the soft sound was suddenly cut off, like a phone being disconnected. Under normal circumstance, she might not have noticed.

"Devin?" She searched the room. He was not in the bed, nor under it, nor behind the curtains. "Devin!"

No answer.

She had to get help. The man in the basement! He was a good man. He would help.

She ran down, unimpeded, to the basement, but the man was not there. His cap with the city seal lay in the circle and the ground around it appeared muddy, as if it had been sprinkled with some liquid.

"Mister..." Claire began, but suddenly she realized that she hadn't learned his name. "Mr. Inspector?" she asked, dissatisfied with the way it sounded. She turned around several times, searching the basement with her eyes, and occasionally ducking under the stairs to check. He was not there.

She backed up the first three steps, then turned an ran.

She dialed the phone. "911, what's you're emergency?" the receiver asked.

"My son's gone! I can't find him! He was downstairs, and then he was upstairs, and then he was gone! And so was the man downstairs!"

"Is this Claire Larkin?"

"Yes."

"Please stay on the line with me. A police officer is on his way."

---to be continued.
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PostSubject: Re: Disorientation   Tue Aug 26, 2008 12:04 am

Gomez please carry on - I'm addicted to this and I hope that when it's finished you get it published and send me a copy. At every "to be continued" I'm absolutely on the edge of my seat

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PostSubject: Re: Disorientation   Tue Aug 26, 2008 8:21 am

Wait till you see how it ends before deciding whether it's good or not. I've been told the ending is weak, but the ending's the whole point from my point of view. I write stories backwards. Well, sort of. I come up with a good ending, then a good beginning, and then just fill in the blanks.

On with the story.

---
The policeman was very tall with broad shoulders and a slender waist. He looked very solid and resilient, like the stuff superballs are made of.

"Mrs. Larkin?"

"Yes."

"I'm Officer James Stark. You reported a missing child?"

"He was just in his room and now he's not, and the man in the basement's gone, too."

"Who was the man in the basement?"

"I don't know. He didn't say his name. He was from the city. He said he was looking for a leak."

"What kind of leak?"

"He didn't say. I didn't ask -- I probably wouldn't have understood, anyway, I don't know about construction and buildings and plumbing and things like that."

Officer Stark reached up and pulled the trigger on the walkie-talkie on his shoulder and spoke into it. "Lucy, I need you to check the basement. Mrs. Larkin says a man claiming to be from the city was down there before the boy disappeared."

"10-4," the radio answered.

"Can you show me where you last saw your son, Mrs. Larkin?"

The bedroom was as she had left it, in good order, but empty. Officer Stark calmly took note of the window, which was too high for Devin to have climbed to, and then opened the closet door and peered around inside.

"Mind if we have a look around?"

"Not at all."

Stark methodically looked in each room and closet on the second floor, then came back down the stairs. A police woman stood at the foot of the stairs.

"I found a cap in the basement, Jim. Must belong to that guy from the city."

"Right. Tag it. Anything else?"

"I'd like Mrs. Larkin to come down with me."

Downstairs, the policewoman Officer Stark called "Lucy" took her to a wall that had a few bricks missing. "You do this?" she asked.

"No," Claire answered, half wondering if she had.

Might be he was looking for something. There's no wires or pipes back there, but there is a shelf or something. This wall is made to look just like the foundation, but it's not. That's about three feet back." She shined her flashlight around inside by way of explanation. "You know about this when you bought the house?"

"No, I didn't."

"Wonder how he found out then," Stark mused.

After much poking and prodding and craning, the police asked Claire's permission to tear down a portion of the false wall. Claire saw no point in having a room without a door, and consented.

Tom came home in the middle of the excavation effort, looking understandably confused. When he heard of his son's disappearance, though, his confusion turned to shock and then to anger at Claire for letting a complete stranger walk right in and steal their son.

The officers defended Claire's position that there was no reason to suspect him at the time. Eventually, he relented into a sullen acquiescence.

The wall came down easily with Officer Jim Stark's hand at the job. Behind it was a dusty room with a small, crude table made of stacked, rough stones.

"Well, he sure knew what he was looking for," Lucy said. "See how there's no dust on that spot in the middle of the table? That's where it was. Doesn't explain what he wanted with the kid, though."

Claire came closer to the little alcove for a better look. On either side of the table was a wall sconce which held three candles and a banner with an odd, squiggly symbol. It gave her the creeps, and she backed back out.

--to be continued.
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PostSubject: Re: Disorientation   Wed Aug 27, 2008 7:11 am

An A.P.B. was issued, and the police combed the neighborhood, but they found nothing that night. They checked with every city agency, and did discover that one employee was missing, a Mr. Zachary Lang, who worked for the Board of Health. His supervisor said that Mr. Lang had left the previous afternoon saying he was going to investigate a claim, but never returned.

The police could find no friends or relatives of Zachery Lang's and his colleagues had no idea of his whereabouts. They were all shocked to hear he was in any sort of trouble. They said he was undoubtedly strange and often seemed preoccupied, but had never been anything but kind, gentle, and helpful in their experience.

---to be continued.
Yeah, I know it's a real short chapter. Deal. There are only two left after this one.
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PostSubject: Re: Disorientation   Thu Aug 28, 2008 5:50 am

The following night, Claire and Tom sat in the den, unable to sleep, when they both heard a strange sound upstairs. It was a quiet, abrupt rush, like a door opened into a gale and then shut again.

"Did you hear something?" Tom asked.

"I'm not sure. What was that?"

"Well, whatever it was, I think it came from upstairs."

Slowly, cautiously, they climbed the stairs, Claire braced herself for anything, but still wasn't prepared for what she found in the hallway.

"Mama?" Devin called from the door of his room.

"Son!" Tom called back, and ran to embrace him. Claire was too stunned to move.

Then the sound came again. This time from downstairs, and this time, it didn't stop. Claire turned and rushed down the stairs with Tom at her heels, carrying Devin. The sound grew louder downstairs, and led them to the kitchen. It wasn't quite like a rush of wind, nor was it quite like the roar of the sea. In the kitchen they could hear a man's voice mixed in with it, grunting and straining. It came from the trapdoor in the pantry. As tom reached for the ring of the trapdoor, the voice shouted sharply and gutturally, as if its owner were delivering a hard blow, or wrenching himself onto a precipice, and the noise stopped.

When the couple reached the base of the stairs, Claire recognized the city inspector the police had been looking for lying by the circle in the floor, propped up on one elbow. He was breathing heavily, as if he had just been jogging. "I made it back..." he panted.

Tom handed Devin to Claire and told her to call the police. She didn't hesitate to obey.

The police were there in short order. They arrested Zachary Lang for the kidnapping of Devin Larkin. He did not resist in any way, but was raving as they took him away. "I was careless... took it across the magic circle... thought the blessing would take the magic out."

Devin said, when he could talk about the experience, that he left his room through "the scary window," and was carried back by Zachary Lang.

The police found that a trellis outside Devin's window was strong enough to climb, and concluded that he had used it to abduct and return Devin. The basement showed signs of forced entry at one of the windows. Lang claimed that he had not abducted Devin, and blamed the whole affair on ghosts and demons. Very little of his story made sense.

In the end, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

* * *

The green pills worked perfectly. Claire suffered from no further memory lapses or any side effects other than an occasional stomach upset.

Although tom remained annoyed for several days, he finally admitted the episode hadn't been Claire's fault. She was on a new medication at the time, after all.

Devin was in therapy for a couple of weeks, at the State's insistence. Eventually, the child psychologist assigned to him managed to break through his childish, trauma-induced delusions, and help him remember that he was simply carried out of the window by a kidnapper, and later brought back.

Eventually, life settled back into its old, comfortable routine.


THE END
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PostSubject: Re: Disorientation   Thu Dec 11, 2008 5:44 pm

Gomez... the story was brilliantly written, and I was totally unable to stop reading it. The ending was great, but I wish you had given it as much detail and attention as you gave the beginning and middle. I am not criticizing you at all.... the story is superb!! But I do agree that the ending seemed too abrupt.... it came about too quickly.... Perhaps if you had described where the child had been in a bit more depth, more detail. Anyway, you have a bright writing future ahead of yourself... I hope you are still writing.

Here is an idea..... The post that darkwave made about the piano sitting in the forest. Perhaps you could write a story about that, you never know. Maybe I would be inclined to do a painting to go with the story Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Disorientation   Fri May 08, 2009 6:33 am

Sorry I never replied back to this. My computer busted back when and then I never noticed the reply later.

Yeah, I totally ran out of steam toward the end. The idea, if I continued with this, was to run backwards with prequils revolving around the "safety inspector." I'm really tempted to scrap it as a cool exercise and go on to other things. Right now, I need to get busy editing my novel.

As for criticism, I welcome it. Knowing what's wrong with my stories is far more helpful than knowing what's cool. What's cool doesn't need improvement. What's broken does.

I'll definitely always be writing, but whether I'll continue this particular line of thought... well... probably eventually, when I'm done with other stuff. The piano in the woods is an interesting bit of inspiration, though...
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