Friday, March 27, 2009

Finish it Friday: Hurry, Last Chance to Enter!!!!

So being bestowed with the honor of writing a starter for Finish it Friday I had to think about what direction I wanted to take this in. JSP's bold and exciting leap into Horrotica is a very tough act to follow. So I was thinking, what if I wrote a starter that is a perfect set up for anything. The story starts off pleasant enough and has an event that leads to, well, whatever. Being that the story starts off lightheartedly it can be continued that way if the author so chooses but it also leaves a set for something strange, or terrible or even erotic if you like. It's basically a generic starter story that I'm leaving to you the enders to take wherever your little hearts so desire.

Here are a couple of inspirational pictures for you to chew on.

Oh these are some happy woods we've found here.

Uh, I'm not so sure if I want to go in there.

So, without further ado. I give you, Alone in the Woods.

It was a fine fall day. The air was crisp but not too cold, the perfect day for a stroll through the woods. I always loved the fall. Not just because of the vibrant changing colors, but more for that certain feeling that’s in the air. Today that feeling was coming through like a ray of sunlight through the trees. You could smell winter coming in yet the temperature was still warm enough to really enjoy the outdoors. I slid into my most comfortable jeans, slipped on a sweatshirt and my best walking shoes and then I was off. I drove out to a familiar spot where locals can jump onto the Appalachian Trail. It’s an interesting & visual hike and being that it was a weekday in late September the trail would be virtually empty. I like to hike alone, maybe it’s not the smartest thing to do but I really feel like I’m connecting with nature that way.

I headed off down the familiar path taking in the clean scent of the trees. All was quiet today, just the way I hoped it would be. I kept a canteen strapped around my waist and with each step I could hear the gentle sloshing of the spring water inside. That sound kept my pace steady, I could feel my stress melting away already. After a while I stopped briefly for a drink from my trusty canteen and watched a pair of playful squirrels chasing each other. They scampered up the tree, then back down again, so involved in their game that they hardly noticed me. I thought about sharing the granola bar in my pocket with them but decided against it, never know how long I might end up walking and I’d be really happy to have it if I got hungry later.
I spoke aloud to the happy critters, “Oh well squirrly Q’s, you’re outta luck today.”
It’s so strange hearing your own voice in an isolated area. It seemed so foreign and out of place. Even the squirrels were startled by it and stood frozen eyeing me suspiciously.
“Sorry guys,” time to get moving.

I continued walking for some time enjoying the woodsy potpourri as it tickled my olfactory senses. Something in that aroma triggered childhood memories of my days with the scouts. Hiking, sleeping out in the woods, cooking over an open fire and laughing with my friends. Such good times. I began singing silly childhood songs as I strolled, adding a little skip to my step. “ Miss Lucy had a steamboat, the steamboat had a bough. Miss Lucy went to heaven and the steamboat went to, Hello operator… “
It’s funny how the human memory works. Triggered by scents it can pull out all sorts of information you thought you had forgotten. I wondered if somewhere in there I still remembered how to play Chinese jump rope or Jacob’s ladder.

As I walked along musing about my childhood I suddenly became aware of footsteps behind me. My face flushed with embarrassment. Had they heard me singing? Maybe it was just the squirrels. A twig snap, then more steps. Definitely not squirrels. Okay, I’ll just pick up my pace. I’m not far from the turn off for the scenic overlook. I’ll turn there, rest for a few minutes then head back. As I walked more rapidly I could hear the pace of the other quicken as well. That’s strange? Maybe not, perhaps they were keeping pace with me. I’ll lose them at the turn off. I could see the path just ahead, salvation. I took the right fork that led up to the overlook, the steps behind followed. Dammit! Time to buck up and face the music. To hell with embarrassment, if they heard me they heard me. I reached the guardrail atop the hill and turned to see…


Johnny Sweatpants said...

Damn Catfreeek! That was fast.

Catfreeek said...

I write fast, it's the damn ADHD my friggin' mind never stops. Aaaaaahhhhh!!!

Catfreeek said...

I just realized that I never gave you guys any rules.

Cut off is Friday Midnight, whatever your time zone is. I won't be reading and deciding until Saturday anyway.

I do like the idea of submitting anonymously but if you don't want to that's fine too. I'm not biased :)

AC said...

cat- i am happy to do an anonymous submit, if someone will explain how to do it!

Hairy Herman said...

There's a button that says anonymous right above the publish your comment thing. But it would be so much cooler if we used the Name/URL button instead and made up a name to put in there, like I just did. You'd still be anonymous but at least I'd have a name to post as the winner.

Catfreeek said...

Then after the winner is announced the mystery authors can reveal themselves or at least the winner can anyway.

slightly less hairy gretchen said...

thanks for the tip, catfreeek!


JoeySweatshirt said...

That's a great idea! And a fine, fine, intro, Cat!

I'm done on my movie on Tuesday, and Wednesday I get to babysit the Window Guy, so I'll have plenty of haiku/story time this week.


Big Willie Johnson said...

That Chuck Naked guy seems pretty cool.

Chuck Naked said...

I reached the guardrail atop the hill and turned to see I-shit-you-not Steve Urkel from that horrible TV show Family Matters. I realize that no one in their right mind will ever believe this but I know what happened and nothing you can say will convince me otherwise. It wasn’t the actor either - it was Steve Urkel. The actor must be in his 30’s at this point, right? No, I was face to face with 15 year old Urkel himself sporting the suspenders and glasses, the whole shebang. “Hey there big guy!” he squeaked in that thoroughly irritating voice.

“Wh-what are you doing?” was all I could muster.

“I saw you hiking by yourself and thought you might like some company!” At this point I was fairly certain that I was either dreaming or hallucinating so I played along.

“Thanks all the same”, I replied. “But I just came out to get some fresh air and listen to my IPod. Now if you'll excuse me I'm…”

“Oooh an IPod!” he interrupted, like nails on a chalkboard. “Laura has one just like it and…” Before he even finished the sentence, he had already managed to grab it out of my hand, fumble around with it and drop it over the lookout, down the rocky ledge below. I heard it shatter into a hundred pieces and then I heard the smash a second time in echo form. I suppose I should have expected the ensuing “Did I do thaaaaaat?” but at that moment I was still in a state of shock.

“I’m sorry and I’ll make it up to you!” he assured me. “As soon as I win the talent show I’ll buy you another one. Wanna see my act?” While I was still mourning the loss of my beloved IPod, Urkel pranced around like a peacock singing I’m Too Sexy. I never much cared for that song but this particular rendition was, well, excruciating. The mental anguish I was feeling was soon matched physically. As he approached the “I’m too sexy for my cat” portion of the song he theatrically fell over backwards, landing in a bush containing a larger than average beehive. Predictably the bees swarmed out in a state of agitation. I sustained 11 stings in all, six in my face and neck. Curiously Urkel made it through the incident unscathed.

“You Ok big guy? Let’s have a look.”

“Please…,” I gasped, lying face down in dirt. “Just leave me alone, man… Haven’t you done enough already?”

He ignored my plea and exclaimed “Ooooh! One of the stingers is still embedded in your neck! Luckily I always carry tweezers with me! Lie still and I’ll get it out.” I was too weak to fight him and he picked and poked away at my neck for what felt like hours. I could feel the stinger slipping deeper into my skin and the venom spread. As I was losing consciousness I could still hear that tinny voice. “You don’t look so hot my friend. Don’t worry, I’ll get help ASAP.”

I drifted into sleep for about 4 seconds before being awoken by a searing pain in my groin. If you’ve never been shot in the testicles with a flare gun before then consider yourself very fortunate indeed. “Did I do thaaaaaat?” he asked, knowing damn well that he did precisely that. And that’s when I lost it. I gathered enough strength to stand on my own, grabbed the nearest rock and cracked him in the head with it. The last words he ever uttered were “Hey, what’s the big idea, mister?” The next blow knocked him to the ground. In a violent, blurry frenzy I smashed him again and again and again until his skull was split wide open and his spilt blood covered my hands and clothes. It was all over in seconds. I then instinctively dragged his ragged corpse, pushed it over the edge of the cliff and wondered if he landed anywhere near my IPod.

Again, I fully understand your skepticism but this memory is as vivid and “real” as my wedding day and I feel morally obligated to tell somebody. Believe me, I wish I made it up. Then I wouldn’t have to go through life with a brutal murder on my conscience. I still check the newspapers daily but thus far no mention of his body has ever surfaced. The strangest part of all is that the actor who played Urkel has not been seen publicly since that fateful day and obtaining any information about his current whereabouts is virtually impossible.

As the horror slowly fades from my mind, I can’t help but remember his words. Did I do that?

anonythonner said...

I reached the guardrail atop the hill and turned to see a middle aged woman with a kind, open face, long gray hair, and glasses. She was dressed as I was, in comfortable clothes and sturdy hiking boots.

“Did I scare you, honey?” she asked, with a slight, husky Texas drawl. Her voice sent a shiver up my spine, though I didn’t know why.

“Yeah, to be honest… I wasn’t expecting to run into anyone else in these woods today.”

“That’s exactly the same reason I was hiking here” she said as she drew closer. As we came face to face she appeared somehow familiar to me, though I couldn’t remember why. A neighbor? Former teacher? Friend of my parents? And then she smiled more widely and I knew her in a flash.

I gasped, “Janis… Joplin?”

“Guilty, honey. Don’t freak out. I’m not a ghost. Way back in 1970 I realized that the pressures of fame, the road, hard drugs and alcohol were taking too much of a toll. They were sapping my spirit, honey. And there was no way off that train; too many other people were involved, pushing me for their own reasons. Faking my death was the only way out I could think of. I’ve been living quietly in different parts of rural America ever since. When I was younger I had to be more careful not to look too much like Janis… gave up my feathers and beads and such… but so much time has passed, hardly anyone ever recognizes me now, and no-one’s ever given me away… well, if they did, no-one believed them.”

We started to walk side by side towards the overlook, Janis expertly lighting up a fragrant joint as we walked (“m’last vice, honey”). “Let’s check out that ol’ overlook, then you should come back to my place for tea. If you’re surprised to see me, you’re gonna love meeting the boys: Jimi, Jim, and Jerry.”

Mussina said...

I reached the guardrail atop the hill and turned to see…

The most ridiculous thing I had ever seen in my entire life. All at once, in a flash, the thought hit me like lightning: Everything We Know Is Wrong.

If I was hallucinating, there wouldn’t be a problem. But I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that what I was seeing was real. There before me stood a squirrel. A squirrel that stood almost 6 feet tall. A squirrel that was also looking at me with its head cocked to one side, and with, inexplicably, its hands on its hips. I tried not to look at the squirrel’s right foot, which seemed to be tapping the ground. The way memory works is in fact strange. All I could think of were the snippets of camper lore I had heard over the years about what to do when confronted by a bear. Was it “no sudden movements”? Or was it “make a lot of sudden movements”? Do I try to look bigger than I am, to threaten it and scare it off, or do I try to look smaller and less threatening, so as not to goad it into mauling me?

I wish I’d read more of those “What To Do On The Trail” pamphlets. But even then, I seriously doubted they had a section on confrontations with human-sized squirrels.

The squirrel and I continued this uneasy standoff. I decided to make the first move. Slowly, I unslung my canteen from my shoulder. I thought briefly about making a clich├ęd look into the canteen, but as any child of movies and cartoons of the late 20th century, I knew that whatever I was experiencing visually was not due to what was in my canteen. And, perhaps, the squirrel might misinterpret this gesture. The fact that I was thinking along those lines only underscored the sheer absurdity of the situation. I unscrewed the top, and held it out in the squirrel’s direction.

The squirrel seemed to exhale sharply, almost in…annoyance? Then, in a blur of gray fur, the squirrel’s paw swept out, snatching the canteen from my grasp. It continued to eye me as it raised the open mouth of the canteen to its nose, whiskers and nostrils twitching. It then tilted its head back, and poured the water down its throat, spilling a bunch over its cheeks. The giant furry tail twitched back and forth.

The squirrel lowered the canteen, and shook the excess water off its whiskers. It chittered sharply, the first sound that either of us had made. If it wasn’t for the very anthropomorphic gestures its arms were making, I never would have said, “I’m sorry, what was that?”

The squirrel eyed me for a second, in what could only be described as exasperation. With a squirrelly sigh, it cleared its throat.

“Look, buddy, I don’t care who you are or where you come from, but around these parts we like our trails quiet. Enough with the damn singing.”

As if to accentuate the point, a number of (regular-sized, whew) squirrels raced out of the surrounding brush and took up positions in front of the big one. I tried to ignore the fact that it looked like most of them were waving their little paws, like at the beginning of a boxing match.

“You see, you’ve taken a ride into the danger zone,” said the squirrel. “Why you got to gimme a fight?”

This was too much. I had to say something. “I’m not fighting anything, especially you! I’m just a hiker, trying to-“

“Look, pal,” said the squirrel, “You got to gimme a fight? Why don’t you just let me be?”

My eyes narrowed. There was something oddly rhythmic in the squirrel’s responses. “Perhaps if we could sit down for a few minutes and talk,” I began, “maybe we could all benefit…”

The squirrel had this to offer, “We of the woods have pondered long and heavy how to make the human race hear our songs. We tried first with that Aesop yahoo a few centuries ago, and more recently with that Disney fellow. But they just don’t get it.”

I pondered this for a moment. “Well,” I began, “I am a songwriter…”

“Really?” said the squirrel. “We’ve got some phenomenal ideas...”

A few hours later, I stood up, exhausted. The squirrel had given me more than enough in terms of songs and music and lyrics, and really, a way to bring the human race together. I made it my vow to always come back to the squirrel every time I needed inspiration.

Walking away, I realized, I’m all right. Nobody had to worry about me.

“Hey!” said the squirrel.

“Yes?” I said, turning back.

“They’re going to know the name Kenny Loggins forever, you just keep coming back to see me.”

And with a scamper, he was gone.

The Fat Dutchman said...

You had me at "Everything We Know Is Wrong".