21 January 2010

"Head" #Fridayflash

They all said that it wouldn't work, burying that half-eaten head. The demons still was in it, and they’d continue to plague whoever had it in his possession. The witch down south told us to burn it and take the charred skull to a crossroads outside of town, as far as we could go. The intersection confused them, she said. The raised spirit of that cursed thing would stand for an eternity, just trying to figure out which way to go to get back to town. Them ghostly types ain't too smart after all.

Me and Jeremy took it down out back, doused it in lighter fluid and set it afire. The thing screamed like bloody murder. It had no eyes, but me and Jeremy could feel its cold stare. We wrapped it up in one of Ma’s kitchen towels, (the one with the tan mushroom print on it) and threw it in a sack with some turkey and cheese sandwiches and headed out of town. The closest intersection was out on Interstate 33, where it crossed over Farm Road 210.

"Where'd you get this anyway?" I asked, watching him swing the sack around. He chawed his gum like a cow chewing on cud.

"Out by the cemetery. Robert's Ma just died. We happened to be out there makin' out."


Jeremy blushed. "Me and my girlfriend."

“Gross, that thing is Robert's Ma?"

"Well, what came out of her grave anyway."


Marisa Birns said...

What really scared was that the turkey/cheese sandwiches was IN the sack with the head!

And, small world, I've seen kitchen towels with a tan mushroom print.

This did the job. Great first sentence. Great second sentence...and so on and so forth until the great ending sentence.

Spooky good!

Anonymous said...

It's such a creepy premise, but you bring it to life with a lot of spot on details. These characters are straight out of the backwoods somewhere. I can't imagine the tangles they get into!

Anonymous said...

I was wondering the same thing: Did they actually eat the sandwichs? Is that safe?

Sulci Collective said...

Love the Deep South Gothic voice of this.

Bring me the head of alfresco cherry garcia (sorry, couldn't resist).

Top stuff

marc nash

Carrie Clevenger said...

You guys focused on the SANDWICHES? HAHAH. Okay, that was funny. Mmm charred beef and skull sammies. Awesome.

Tony Noland said...

Nice. Like the mix of horror & mundane.

Michael Solender said...

nasty. in a good way.

Laura Eno said...

I focused on the sandwiches too. :) Gross place to put them! Terrific down home flavor...I mean, dialogue.

Anonymous said...

Didn't I hear you say you had "nothing" for this week just a short while ago? I just love how you pull these characters out of your hat Carrie! These two are coming through loud and clear, though they don't seem to be too clear about much. :) Great job!
Don't think I'll have a turkey and cheese for a while. :)

Unknown said...

Fun little romp. Seems like a great opening to a novel. Carrying a crispy skull with lunch makes an interesting character. More, please.
-David G Shrock

CJ Hodges MacFarlane said...

Heh, admittedly I focused on the sandwiches packed in with the skull, too.
Creepy, good tale. :)

David Masters said...

Hilarious opening paragraph, and you had me laughing out loud throughout.

I particularly enjoyed the style you write this in.

John Wiswell said...

Carrie, you invited me to eviscerate you last week. While I hope it isn't painful, I'm happy to spend some time on feedback here before I go to bed. Hope this is useful!

Two things popped up quickly. The first is something I'd let go of if it didn't appear so soon: a half-eaten skull is almost an impossibility. You can eat half of anything in or on the skull, but if jaws powerful enough to eat a skull bit it, it'd break. That's the sort of problem I (and most annoying critical thinkers) will forgive later, but when it appears early it interrupts my entry into the world. A half-eaten head would be more grotesque, while a worm-eaten skull or head might serve a similar creepy factor.

The second thing is a little broader. I had trouble with the voice. The instinct is to read him (if it's a him) as a redneck for believing in demons and pronouncing "buryin'" that way. But he doesn't mispronounce any other verbs; "trying" is normal later in the first paragraph. Plus he's sophisticated enough to use "whomever," where most people would only know "whoever." More irrational, "Bluffington" is so big and pompous a name that the word being used made me further question how he sounded. That's confusing in so short a piece.

By the second paragraph the voice is clearly worked out, but until then it was a problem for me, and one compounded by the use of parenthesis. If it's first person, parentheticals are awkward. There are more conventional ways to express asides in spoken word, and using this instead makes it seem like they should sound different than asides, but I couldn't tell what.

Related to the conjugation thing, most professional publications frown on stuff like "buryin'." While I think it's fine, reflecting on the standard made me think that with the two problems I listed removed, you don't need that to create voice. The explicit poor grammar of "Me and Jeremy took it down out back" does everything you need to get voice out there. That's the second paragraph, but my example as to when it's ungarnished, you achieve this voice just fine.

Now this is longer than your story. I hope you'll take that as a sign of respect. I may need to take some NyQuil. Cheers!

Carrie Clevenger said...

Thank you so much John! When I wake up, I'll go in to edit based on your suggestions. I value honest feedback.

Robert St-John Smith said...

I am another one, who is grossed out by the thought of the sandwiches more than what they are doing.

-what does that say about me!

Good stuff

Anonymous said...

Leave it to you to take a creepy, horrible concept and turn it into a hilarious ride. :-) Sticking the head in with the sandwiches was the detail that nailed the characters for me. Nice work!

Linda said...

Great first line (how can you NOT read after that?)

I was going to have a cheese sandwich for lunch, but now... ugh... head-cheese... peace, Linda

EC said...

This is great dark fiction. What I loved most about it was the contrast between the devilsh-gore and normal reality, like kitchen towels. Gives it authenticity- true horror/scifi to me has to have an element of this life.

Jim Bronyaur said...

The opening. Wow. That has to be one of the BEST #fridayflash opening sentences/hooks I've ever seen.

As soon as I read it, I imagined a flesh rotted skull, perhaps half smiling, lying in grass that just almost covered it but left enough exposed to see chunks of hair sticking up.



Anne Tyler Lord said...

Have to say I am obsessed with the sandwiches in with the head,too.

All I could think about is the "country boys" who were always into high jinx in my youth - who lived in the country in Iowa. Wouldn't put anything past them either.

I greatly enjoyed your story - and I have seen those kitchen towels, think my mom had one.

Laurita said...

Blech! And I mean that in the best possible way. No lunch for me today.

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

Fabulous first line!

And how could we not be obsessed with the sandwiches - it's January and everyone's on a weightloss kick, no doubt!

Eric J. Krause said...

Very cool, very intriguing story. It has all sorts of great possibilities built into it. I enjoyed reading this one a TON.

I have to admit, though, that the sandwich thing popped out at me, too.

Genevieve Jack said...

I agree with the other comments! The creepiest part of the story is the sandwiches in with the demonized skull. If I came across these kids, those sandwiches would go straight in the trash. :)

And, I'm pretty sure my mom had that mushroom towel in the late 70's but hers didn't have the skull in it...at least not that I know of.

Creepy and well told, as always!

shannon said...

Not much else to say but..EWEEEEE!!! lol, your imagination is a scary place :-)

Kristy Baxter said...

Sandwiches also got me, I'll admit. But it was just one great (albeit disgusting) detail among others that made for a hair-raising story. Freaky and expertly done.

~Tim said...

Hah! That bit about the sandwiches in the bag with the head got to me too. Just EW! thinking about them eating those -- I thought it was a nice gross touch, but it sounds like it's a bigger deal than you anticipated.

The only thing that pulled me out of the story was the idea that the closest intersection out of town included an Interstate highway. I had imagined a town more remote so I expected nothing bigger than a county or state road nearby.

Lily Mulholland said...

They were making out in a cemetary? Spooky and very silly!

Carrie Clevenger said...

I really want to thank all of you for stopping by. This week has been madness, and I'm staring more chaos in the face for the next two months to come. As some of you may know I have been accepted for a couple of spots and have to give myself the time to work, mother, write and maybe if I'm lucky...sleep.

I will be stopping by your blogs this week. Hang in there.