Monday, January 31, 2011
Sunday, January 30, 2011
They didn’t believe him, because he wasn’t a scientist. And in the year 2113, when the world had come together peacefully at least under the shining banner of the Planetary Union, when science was reaching unprecedented heights of discovery and exploration, when shuttlecraft were flying daily from colonies on the Moon, Mars, and three of the moons of Jupiter, when plans were even then underway for building a massive light-speed ship that could leave the solar system and venture out into the glorious unknown, a person who wasn’t a scientist just wasn’t worth listening to. Jack Jenner was most certainly not a scientist. He hadn’t entered the Solar Fleet Academy or even graduated university. Besides which, as Admiral Susan C. Presterfield had so eloquently testified in her committee’s hearing on the subject, Mr. Jenner’s suggestion was completely and totally wacko. “Our long-range scanner arrays have been searching the universe for years and years,” she’d said to the swarm of holo-cams and droid-reporters of the world’s myriad media outlets. “Never have we found even the tiniest sign that another world exists. Even if one did, it would take centuries to travel there even at light-speed. It would be absolutely impossible, as Mr. Jenner says, to travel there through some sort of magic cave that he stumbled upon in the woods. Honestly, he’s completely delusional.”
Saturday, January 29, 2011
" All the while, the little demon cackles in the background, circling them."
But anyway, read on if you don't mind shivering from the creepiness. :)
The room is dark and swathed in shadows so the man can not see her face. He can, however, see the deformed features of her hideous servant. The demon would have been bad enough by itself but the look on its face is enough to make anyone feel like heaving. Longing is written clearly across the gagged surface; that is not the disgusting bit though it feeds his terror. The look of pure pleading admiration for its mistress is the source of his stomach’s discomfort. It is the expression of an insect gazing upon a god; of a creature so low that it is not even worth stepping upon. It is proof of what she can do to a person.
“Do you know why you are here?” Her tone is conversational, some might even call it friendly.
The man gulps. He has angered her. What did he do? And more pressing, what should he say? His mind races for a response. It does not find one. Even if it had, his throat is too dry to speak.
“I see you do not,” her voice is sharp like a knife but somehow she manages to add a layer of softness to it.
Friday, January 28, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Here are the stories that were posted on the web:
- Michael revisited Princess Caitlin and her mime-assassin bodyguard, Colin, in a screwball Monty Pytonesque comedy.
- Madeline delved into a post-apocalyptic world where a jaded cyborg yearns for a new human heart.
- Brooke explored the social mishaps of a functional magic addict.
- Eyglo gave us insight into the price of making all your wishes come true.
- In our Saturday feature, Charlotte gave us a story about sloppy magic, gossip and ex-bestfriends.
- In our Sunday feature, Virginia wrote about the changing dynamics of a lifelong friendship.
See you all Friday!!!!
Monday, January 24, 2011
"The correct answer to 'no' is never 'please'. What a lazy, grotesque, sickening, pathetic way to get through life. Have some self-respect."
Best of luck!
Saturday, January 22, 2011
“I got you a present!” Marianne proclaimed as they entered her bedroom.
“Oh?” replied Sharla as she dropped her backpack on the ground. As much as she loved her best friend, she was always wary of what ‘presents’ Mar found. Her friend always meant well, but a combination of naivety and optimism meant that the bespectacled girl often got it wrong.
“You know how you like Steve, Shar?” she said with a grin, pushing her small round glasses back up her nose.
“Yes…” Sharla said warily, dropping into her accustomed beanbag. She pushed a lock of short brown hair out of her hazel eyes; she’d just gotten a pixie cut for the first time, and it was taking some getting used to. She also hoped it would cover her surprise; Marianne was usually cheerfully oblivious to, well… everything!
Marianne grinned widely, making freckles dance across her face. She opened a desk drawer and fished out a small wrapped box, obviously pleased with herself. She handed it to Sharla, looking very sure of herself. Still looking wary, Sharla meticulously peeled back the tape, taking care not to see what was being given to her prematurely. But as it was small, no larger than a pack of cards, she quickly reached the gift in question.
When Lydia was fourteen she got a book of spells, badly bound, from a well-meaning aunt. She’d thought the cover was cute, the aunt said, as she handed over the Taiwan-manufactured tome. Besides, it came with a pair of lipstick-pink “Divinity candels” (as it was spelt on the box), and she knew Lydia loved pink.
Lydia didn’t. Lydia hated pink.
The first time she opened the book she cut her finger on page 18, Cursing Your Enemies. Lydia came up with a curse of her own, and shut the book. She never thought about it again.
Until twenty years later. There’d been some trouble with Cat; a girl who was once her bestie at university. They’d had a falling-out, as her mother used to call them. It was over something stupid, of course – some he said, she said bullshit that never got sorted out. Now there was no chance of them ever giggling over lattes or catching a Hugh Jackman movie.
The trouble was, they still worked together.
And the other trouble was, Cat knew Lydia’s secrets.
She didn’t have many secrets, but Cat knew all of them. The time Lydia accidentally peed in the back seat of her boyfriend’s mum’s car (just a little, but you know, it was still pee). How she once took twenty dollars from her grandmother’s purse to buy cigarettes. What she really thought about Jill, their manager, who never seemed to shower (Lydia couldn’t walk into her office without gagging).
Friday, January 21, 2011
Warning: naughty language to follow.
I Pronounce You...Dead!
Susan did a twirl in front of the mirror, liking what she saw. A lot of glitter and sparkle. Her outfit was almost too bright to look at. But people would look, and they would marvel. Then they'd see the rest of her. Tall, blonde and slender, with luminous green eyes and a pouty plump of a mouth, Susan was certainly a sight to be admired.
There was no way Ryder would be ignoring her tonight. He'd be helpless in her arms by the end of it.
"Well? What do you think?"
She watched dark-haired, olive-skinned Aleena, sitting on the bed, for a response. Aleena was studying her crimson nails. At Susan's question she looked up and eyed Susan. Her face lit up in genuine enthusiasm. A good sign, that. This chick was grateful for what she had. For what Susan had given her.
"You look great."
Okay. That wasn't quite what Susan wanted to hear. She frowned, arching one brow. "Great? That's it?"
"No, no, I mean, you look…" The dark-haired beauty hesitated, looking almost pained. Then she sighed and said, "You look Suesational." Why the reluctance? She shouldn't be sounding that way. But under Susan's sharp gaze, Aleena smiled. Sure, it took her a while, but she did smile. Good.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
- Michael's Princess Story, in which a princess proved herself pretty bad-ass, and the assassin sent to kill her proved himself...well, a bit of a moron, really. :D I really enjoy Michael's quirky humour in his writing, and look forward to reading more!
- Virginia's take on the fake smile people often have to wear in client service. This story spoke to me for sure, and I could really feel the character's desperation to get out of the elevator and into the fresh, smoke-clogged winter air. ;)
- Griffinclaw's emotive take on those special people who show up in our lives from time to time, sometimes with years at a time in absence. And, more to the point, what it means to lose them. Griffinclaw's character portrait was very strong here.
- Madeline's seriously creepy mythical account of a people known as Sparrows, who appear to either be half man, half bird creatures, or...just plain birds. I really love Madeline's unique choice of words and the poetical nature of her writing. *
- Eygló's exploration of probably the world's most famous smile - that worn (or half worn, really :D) by the Mona Lisa. And on the side, two lovers finding each other again after a long separation. Yay! *
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
I'm interrupting our regularly scheduled program to bring you a video from Natalie C. Parker about stuffed cows, cellos, creative recycling and New Years resolutions. It seems especially fitting to post this here because:
a). Like The Cello Project, The Chrysalis Experiment is our New Year's resolution.
b). Natalie C. Parker writes short stories too.
c). Her upcycled bracelets kind of go with this week's ebay prompt!
So . . . Check it out! Win a bracelet! Recruit organ donors!
Monday, January 17, 2011
Write a short story of 1,000-10,000 words based on the following:
"I knew there were magic spells for THAT. I just never imagined buying one off of Ebay."
******In case anyone needs extra inspiration, some people actually do sell magic spells on Ebay. Also, this is the regretsy post my sister sent me.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Okay, well here's my story pick for this week. I've enjoyed reading all the stories, and once again had a hard time picking. I'll be talking about all the stories in the "Thursday wrap-up" when it comes time to post that. But anyway...today's choice really struck me not only because of the intriguing theme - I've never seen Hitchcock's The Birds but I've heard it's enough to make people scared of birds. Well, maybe this story does the same thing. LOL - but also because of Madeline's interesting choice of words. As she mentioned on her blog, this story has elements of the mythic. It definitely put strong images in my mind. And hey, I love birds but I don't know if I'd wanna meet these guys. Haha.
The original posting of the story can be found here.
The Truth Behind The Smile...
The truth behind the smile hid somewhere below the heavens, and far below hell. Its story came from my people, Sparrows. We hid behind feathers as black as guilty blood and beaks so long they shattered the devil’s laugh that rung above us. We had the bodies of people, the wings and beaks of birds, and the hearts of demons. Our smoldered minds were demented, only capable of grasping evil, and we rolled in our own ruin.
We fought amongst themselves. We were seekers of pain and turmoil, and received no less. Numbed by the worst felonies, we hungered for something even stronger than death. The devil himself feared us. Once a crime bad enough was committed, a new Sparrow would be born. Sin was what we were. We were worse than hell itself.
I was the child of cannibalism. Once my mother had sunk her teeth into the fresh flesh of another Sparrow, I was created. I took no pride in my people.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
And the second . . . well . . . Eygló beat me there.
The Truth Behind The Smile: Leo and Mona“Why do you think she’s smiling?” He asked Mona as she walked slowly away from the painting. She shrugged her shoulders, stopped to contemplate the Mona Lisa one last time and then she turned away again.“Honestly who cares? She looks like a self righteous bitch who thinks she knows everything best. It’s probably an ‘I told you so’ smile.”He walked after her laughing, “you don’t think it’s a come-hither-smile then?” he mumbled.“No, surely that woman was dry as a desert” she laughed a bit contentedly. He had hated that laugh once upon a time. An elderly woman glanced their way, she was holding a leather purse that once had been black but was now white from use and a pair of goggles.Mona raised an eyebrow and smiled at the woman.“Dry as a desert” she repeated.“Perhaps it’s simply a polite smile, an ‘I’m being painted by this strange, crazy, dirty old man’ smile” he offered.“No, that’s not a polite smile, it’s a smug smile if I ever saw one” Mona countered.
Friday, January 14, 2011
Warning: Casual swearing ahead.
When I was younger—way younger, maybe ten or eleven—my dad thought it’d be a fun idea to nickname me ‘And.’
See, my name’s Andrew, and I liked being called Andy, or even Drew (Drew was for girls to call me, ‘cause I thought ‘Drew’ was way more studly at this point in my life). But, wouldn’t you know it, ‘And’ stuck. Out of all the damned rotten luck.
Anyway, so here I am, a lonely conjunction trapped in a place I certainly don’t belong: A church. Shit if I belong in a church. I’d declared myself atheist by the time I was thirteen. But, God, I had to come to this wedding, even if it means I’m going to see the one I love—my best friend, the only one who keeps me from quitting my job, my long-time confidant—getting married to someone else.
I’m so very tempted to jump up during the ‘speak now or forever hold your peace’ segment of the service, but I don’t. The right to do that is solely reserved for dramatic scenes in movies, scenes with overuse of violins and perfect couples—usually a petite blonde girl and a tall, masculine, dark-haired guy with artfully-unshaved stubble. I am neither tall nor particularly masculine, to be honest. I’m a skinny blond dude, five foot eight.
So that speak-now moment passes, and the rest of the service goes without a hitch. The only thing I’m thinking is, damn, my ass hurts, because these pews must have been made for people to bring their own cushions or something. I look up at that massive crucifix on the wall and feel a bit bad for thinking curse words in a church, but hey, let’s be honest. I don’t believe in God, so do I really think anything bad is gonna happen? Negative.
I hold back a yawn. I’ve spent so much effort trying to tune out, trying to keep myself from staring with shameless agony, that I’m about to make myself fall asleep. And that’s bad, because this does mean a lot to both of them, and I wouldn’t want to hurt their feelings. Especially not Taylor’s—and God, does Taylor look great up there. Tall, blonde, gorgeous. So much personality behind those blue eyes.
I grit my teeth. I know I shouldn’t be thinking about this stuff while—oh, Lord, and now they’re kissing. Isn’t that just the cherry on top?
I knew I should’ve stayed home with my dog, Ampersand. Why the hell not, I’d figured, when naming him. He was doomed to be a failure at being a dog, anyway. I still don’t know how he grew up so stupid, given that he’s half St. Bernard. What the other half might be remains a mystery, but there’s no questioning Ampersand is one of a kind.
The first time I saw him at the shelter, four years back, I laughed my ass off. What a goofy-looking dog, I thought to myself. Medium size, shaggy, and all sorts of weird colors in that coat of his. Then the guy working at the shelter told me, “This one’s still a puppy,” and I stopped laughing.
“Nah. You’re joking.” I peered closer at him. He was definitely the size of a full-grown dog. “You’re joking, right?”
“Nope. He’s going to be huge. He’s just about six months old right now.”
“Could I see him?”
The volunteer guy opened the cage, and this dog leapt out at me. Must’ve been a three-foot-high jump, I swear to God. I fell back on that hard-ass concrete floor, and to add insult to injury, damn dog started humping me. I felt myself going red in the face. “Get—off,” I grunted, and shoved the dog off my chest.
“Sorry about that. Dogs are such gaywads sometimes,” laughed the volunteer guy, grabbing the dog’s collar.
I pulled myself to my feet, brushing off my disgraced jeans, giving the dog another look. Sure, he was an obnoxious son-of-a-bitch—literally—but I’d never seen a dog look so friendly in my life. So I took him home, cut his hair really damn short, called him Ampersand. We make a pretty good pair. And and Ampersand—try saying that five times fast.
Should’ve stayed home.
I sigh. The organ’s playing, and it’s time for the reception. Good thing, too, because my stomach is empty. There’s nothing in the fridge at home—admittedly, it’s been a bit of a task forcing myself to leave my house these days, between the depression and the just-plain-fear.
See, I got mugged a couple weeks ago. I was walking home, holding my groceries, and this pair of guys kicked me into a side alley and started beating me up. It hurt a whole hell of a lot, not that I wasn’t used to getting beat up. Being scrawny and quiet, among other things, isn’t good for your health when you’re a middle-schooler.
Anyway, though. The muggers—huge, stupid guys; must’ve been twice my size—shoved me up against the wall.
“Got any money?” said the first one.
“Yeah,” I gasped through the blood pouring out of my mouth, reaching for my pocket. “Just hold on—”
“Well, you better hurry up, faggot!” hissed the second.
I pulled my wallet out of my pocket and tossed it to the first guy. “There. That’s all I have.”
“How ‘bout a cell phone, faggot?” the second guy said. Probably his favorite word, ‘faggot,’ but his lack of intelligence wasn’t really an issue to me at that point. I couldn’t breathe. My face resembled some sort of vegetable—broccoli, cauliflower; one of the puffy ones. And my brain wasn’t too far from vegetable status, either, given the number of times they’d slammed my head into the wall. So I took out my phone, handed it to moron number two, and he called me a faggot one more time—ooh, tantalizing—before taking off with moron number one.
I find it sort of weird, now, how little I was scared at that point. I think if they’d had guns, I would’ve been taking a piss in my pants, but as it was, they were just two big idiots calling me names and taking my money. Nothing new.
I stand up and slide out of the pew, my ass crying in relief. My knees are doing that awkward half-bent thing so I can shuffle sideways out into the aisle without just turning ninety degrees and walking like a regular person. I flow with the crowd to the reception area.
A guy named Kyle is walking on my left. He works in the cubicle next to me. He’s also a douchebag, infamous for his douchebaggery. Jesus, I hope I’m not just another douchebag Taylor decided to invite just for the hell of it. There should be two types of invitations: the I-really-wanted-you-to-be-here invitations and the you’ll-hear-about-it-even-if-I-don’t-invite-you-and-that-conversation-will-be-awkward-as-hell-so-I’m-inviting-you invitations.
Kyle turns to me a little and feigns surprise. “Oh, hey, And.” Oh, the subtext is so clear. Why, hello, And! I, uh, ‘didn’t see you there’!
“’Sup, man?” I... uh, I ‘didn’t see you’ either! Wouldn’t it have been better if we had just gone on ‘not noticing’ each other?
“Not much, not much. Nice wedding.” It sure would’ve been better to just continue ignoring you! I’m going to make vapid conversation!
“Yeah.” I’m going to agree, and not contribute anything to this interaction, so that it might fizzle out before it gets too painful and/or personal!
“They look really great together, huh? Took them way too long to go ahead and tie the knot, in my opinion.” I’ve just destroyed all chance you have at exiting the conversation without contributing an opinion! Ha-HA!
“Yeah, it’s been a while.” You thought you had me there, but I’m going to make more vagaries and pray you just go away! Ha-HA, yourself!
“Alright, man. I’ll see you Monday, huh?” Touché.
“Cool.” As I stop translating the subtext, which I generally find far more interesting than actual conversations, I find myself stopping in front of a huge-ass wedding cake. Why did they need this much cake? Oh, right - to satisfy the appetites of hundreds of people they probably didn’t even want to invite. I know Taylor hates Kyle, so i know there’s at least one of 'em.
Should’ve stayed home, should’ve stayed home, should’ve stayed—
Oh, that voice. Musical, almost. Husky, sort of low, beautiful. Taylor’s there, standing right in front of me, and I’m so lost for words I don’t know what to say.
“Hey, Taylor,” I manage eventually. “This... it’s great. It’s all great.” I wave around at the reception hall.
“Glad you like it.” Two twinkling blue eyes can be so goddamn cruel.
I smile wide, the lie in my lips hurting worse than anything.
Still remember the first time I met Taylor. We were twenty-three—I was just out of Tufts at this point, the new kid on the proverbial block. And there are a hell of a lot of blocks in Philly.
I’ve never been much of an advocate of love at first sight. Back when I was twelve, I convinced myself I was in love-at-first-sight with this chick called Melanie. She was the so-called hot one in our grade, and I’d never spoken to her, and I’ve still never spoken to her. I guess at that point I was just latching onto some girl, any girl, to be in love-at-first-sight with, ‘cause all the other guys did it, so I thought I’d fit in better.
That aside, though—I’m pretty damn sure it was love at first sight with Taylor. Third day at work, I turned the corner, looked up from the stapler I was reloading, and—bam! Hit full-force by those eyes. Oh, and I stapled myself in the thumb. It was pretty painful, and I made myself look like a dumbass, but we both started laughing, so it turned out okay. Once the bleeding stopped.
I’ve never really had a best friend before, and definitely not one as cool, funny, and downright gorgeous as Taylor. Before moving to Philly, I never even had a reason to leave my dorm, I was so closed-up. That was probably just my nervousness that someone might get to know me too well, because all during high school and college I hated myself to the point of contemplating suicide - so I didn’t have friends, not really. Sure, I talked with a few girls in a few of my classes—I remember Ashley and Mimi really vividly—and a few guys, though I always felt sort of awkward around guys. They didn’t think my name was funny or cute like girls did, shockingly. Just weird. Not a great conversation starter.
Now, after moving here to Philly, I have a reason to pick up the phone and call someone out of the blue to come over and hang out. I’ve got a reason to worry about what Christmas present to buy, ‘cause Taylor’s presents are always the best. Hysterical, and cute, too. Worst, though—I finally have a reason to stay awake at night, staring at my ceiling, wondering, Is it me? Is it the same? Is it mutual, for the first time in my life?
Should’ve known better, I guess. After I heard the news about the engagement, I completely snapped. I—Jesus, why had I ever thought I could find love? I can’t even find lust, for Christ’s sake. I’m twenty-nine and I’m a virgin. And everyone gets laid in college. Shit, it takes talent not to get laid in college. And I’m not even unattractive, not really. At least, I don’t think so most of the time. I don’t waste time thinking about my appearance, though, ‘cause it’s not what I think that matters. It’s what Tay thinks.
I guess it was pretty doomed, though, from the beginning. From the second that eleven-year-old kid ruined everything by calling me a fag. I guess names just stick to me. They become me, define me, and from that point on, since that dumbass kid called me a fag, I was the school fag. All through middle and high school. Shit, even all through that so-called ‘new start’ college was supposed to bring. I’ve only managed to escape it here, in Philly, and now I’m finding it’s even worse when people aren’t calling me a fag—cause, Jesus, what can I say?
Taylor grins, his teeth white and straight and his blond hair toppling in chaos over his forehead. Cass comes up to him, looking gorgeous in her white dress, and Tay puts his arm around her waist so casually. I try not to stare. I try to hold back my envy.
“You look great, Cass,” I say, glancing her up and down with that dumbass fake smile still plastered all over my face. “I—” I was just about to say I loved her dress. What the hell? Come on, Andrew. Andy. Drew. And. Keep it together. Don’t mind how handsome Taylor looks in his tuxedo, that pressed black tuxedo, perfect on his tall body.
“Thanks! How’s it going, And?” asks Cass, smiling. She’s pretty. Five foot two, brunette, got a nice smile. Maybe if I just looked like her—
I raise my eyebrows. “It’s... it’s going pretty good,” I say. “The wedding was... ah, lovely, I guess?” I laugh. “Isn’t that what people usually say about weddings?”
“Yeah, man,” laughs Taylor. “You shouldn’t say it, though. Makes you sound like a queer.”
It feels like a punch in the stomach. Feels like my heart’s beating too fast, feels like I can’t get any air. “All right, you two,” I say, keeping my smile together, because it’s all I’ve got left. “I gotta get going. Have fun on your honeymoon. Panama, right?”
“Damn straight,” says Taylor, flicking his hair back.
“Okay. Well, have a great time.” I lift a hand in goodbye, trying to grin wider. I don’t care that I’m still starving. I’ll pick up something on the way home, I guess.
As I leave, I check back over my shoulder. I only let myself do it once.
Taylor’s still looking at me. His blue eyes are so lazily confident, I feel like he can see right through my smile. But maybe I’m giving him too much credit. I’m a pretty good actor. I even fool myself sometimes.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Thanks for a great first week! It was great fun reading all of your responses to my prompt. I hope your New Year is going great and those creative juices are continuing to flow.
Remember - if you'd like us to post your story on Saturday or Sunday, you can email it to us at email@example.com, or just post it on your blog and let us know. Remember to write us a disclaimer if it's graphically sexual or violent.
And to anyone who's new to the page - remember, you can join the experiment at any time, if you'd like. Just drop us an email.
Oh, and I just wanted to let everyone know - there's no pressure to use the actual prompt in your story. If it fits in, that's great, but you don't specifically have to say the phrase, "the truth behind the smile" or "I hate polite people. Especially when they're murderers." Just jumping off/inspiration points, really. :D
That's it for now. See you tomorrow, Experimenters!
Monday, January 10, 2011
"The truth behind the smile..."
See you Thursday for a wrap-up of Week 1!
Sunday, January 9, 2011
New prompt tomorrow! Get pumped.
And without further ado:
I had never particularly liked the old man. Still, I liked him more than the suit who stood across the body from me. He wore a hat so I couldn't see his eyes to know if they were looking at me or the crumpled heap of a man.
Glancing down at the beggar, I noticed his eyes, small white orbs. Dead to the world, but I could not help the feeling that they were staring at me. To divert myself from this fearful thought, I wondered exactly what would be done with him. A dead body, even one belonging to a homeless person, would attract attention. The murderer seemed to be thinking along the same lines, for he bent and extracted his knife from the corpse.
He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket with a flourish and wiped off the blood with one swoop. The knife was then carefully restored into his coat and a lighter withdrawn. He set the handkerchief ablaze, watching it crumble to ash. Strangely, not one speck was left on his startling white gloves.
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Friday, January 7, 2011
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Also, if you do decide to submit . . . please include a disclaimer if your work contains any graphic violence, sex or anything that may cause a seizure in the especially delicate. We trust your judgment. Thanks!
Guest posting doesn't preclude your work from being published on your own blog or vice versa. In any case, whether you decide to guest post or not, drop us a line and tell us how it went. We'd love to hear from you!
Monday, January 3, 2011
Saturday, January 1, 2011
Also, this makes us more scientifical without being all brain-dissecty and stuff.
- What are your current writing habits? Do you have any larger projects in the works?
- Name three things you love about your own writing and three skills that you would like to work on this year. Do you have a list of writing goals for 2011?
- What do you find inspiring?
- What sort of things do you currently do to improve your writing?
- Are you currently looking for a critique partner or beta readers? If so, what qualities would you like in a critique partner or beta reader?