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January 16, 2012
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The thing sat still and silent on Sandie's couch, swathed in the oversized black shirt and faded jeans of some long-ago boyfriend. Its white hands rested, motionless, on Its denim-clad thighs while Its expressionless eyes stared through the wall into nothing. It had not moved in more than half an hour, not even to breathe – which only made sense, Sandie thought, since It had been dead and rotting the last time she had seen It.

On the other hand, it was hard to be sure that this visitor was the same one that had shattered her window. The faces were so different, and this one was not dripping, but the voice in her head was the same. It felt the same, what few flashes she had gotten from It.

But after a few minutes, It seemed to have given in to exhaustion and fell into quiet muttering that filled the back of Sandie's head.

She tried to help. She dug up old clothes and helped It to dress, a process not dissimilar to trying to clothe a rag doll. She asked what It needed, both aloud and silently, mind-to-mind, but It was sick and weak and could not answer.

I'm developing a habit, she thought as she called Mike.

"I'm not really sure how to explain," she said in response to the worried voice on the other end. She gave the thing on her couch a skeptical glance. It still had not moved. "I just think you should come see this. I need… a second opinion, I guess."

"Come see what?"

"Just come, please?"

Mike grabbed his keys and hung up.

Sandie sat down again. There was a heavy wooden candlestick on the floor beside her chair, but it had been fifteen minutes since she had looked at it and longer still since she had reached for it. The only potential threat in the room may as well have been a statue, for all the threatening It did.

Its eyes did not move, but Sandie could feel It considering her. Quiet. Speculative. She shifted uncomfortably. It wanted something; that was obvious, but It seemed to have chosen to make her guess.

"Look," she told the side of Its head, "I don't know why you came to me, but I'll do what I can. I mean, within limits, you know? But I'm going to have to know what you want before I can give it to you. I'll try, don't get me wrong. I just need to know what you want."

The body sagged, slumping sideways against the arm of the couch while the mind inside curled in on Itself. They were separate, Sandie realized; the body was only a vehicle for Whatever was driving it. Keeping muscles locked, a torso sitting upright, eyes open – it took too much effort.

She half-stood and touched the cold, white cheek. Dead. Sandie snatched her hand back and tucked it up against her ribs, trying to get rid of the disgusted tingle in her fingertips. There was a dead body sitting on her couch.

Something flickered behind her eyes, and Sandie jumped. It was like a memory, but hard to translate, couched as it was in a framework of frequency and tone and amplitude.

a dying rumble shivers through her core, shaking her on the deepest level imaginable. it disrupts. there is high frequency – bright – and low frequency – dark.

Sandie blinked. Reality was still there. The couch, the body, the new door, and the sheet of blue plastic folded neatly in the corner, all were plainly visible. But there was more than that.

she hears rock, air, intense heat, and something shrill, something wrong. it beats against her and makes holes, skips in the beat. dissonance. she runs from it, but it is not really running; she floats, compresses, snatching at the air and pulling herself away.

It faltered for a moment. The Thing inside the body was resting. Sandie could sympathize; it was a bad memory. She squeezed her eyes shut and tried to figure out what she was seeing. Feeling. Whatever it was. She thought she should have been a lot more alarmed than she was.

It stirred again.

she wanders, alone. there is complete silence. the sensation is unpleasant. the silence is unfamiliar; perhaps the silence has not always been, but she cannot remember a time when it was not. somewhere, there are others. on the edge of consciousness, there are sparks, low notes, vibrating. they are unfamiliar. they do not touch, do not mesh, do not synchronize, do not harmonize. dissonance.

they are confined. small bodies, small minds, trapped inside small bodies. physical. material. they clash with one another. they feel, but they cannot feel her. they clash, resonate, vibrate in conflict with one another. they touch. little animals, flesh and blood.

she finds one, circles the mind like a moth around a candle flame. like a candle flame, the mind is small and bright. she is dim. soft and vast. unconfined. the little animal does not even know she is there. disconnect.

skip.

there are many attempts. no communication. failure.

skip.

a discarded shell. empty, no mind inside. just a shell, untended, decaying, abandoned. she borrows it, but only with reluctance. it is badly damaged, and she has no template, no way to repair it to normal specifications. it is time for research. scan. resonate. she searches for the average, the norm, compiling a composite understanding of hundreds of specimens. there is one mind in the distance, bright but broader, capable, compatible. maybe there is no need for this expenditure – it is costly, too expensive, and there is too little reserve, not enough energy to repair the vehicle. it is preferable to attempt communication with the anomaly.


"You mean me," Sandie said aloud. "I'm the anomaly." She could feel herself in the memory.

"So, are you here for my brains, or what?"

failure to communicate.

Her head hurt, somewhere deep inside her skull. The body on her couch did not move. She checked her watch, but it was still far too early to expect Mike, as much as she would have liked some moral support.

"Failure to communicate, my ass. You broke into my frigging house. I thought you were going to kill me or something." She wanted to be angry, but It was still pulling greedily at that corner of her mind, and the most she could manage was pragmatism.

failure to communicate. template formation successful. repaired…

The thud and whirl of a jazz band pounded for a moment in Sandie's head, and she gripped the arm of the chair hard to keep herself from falling. It was the sound of elation and sustenance.

"You eat feelings. You ate their feelings and… de-rotted? So why did you come back here?"

discontinued. you hear. you will help.

"You mean the bar closed. The people went home…" She had said that she would help, and she regretted it. She pushed her hair back into a ponytail and fished a rubber band out of her pocket to secure it.

"I know a bluegrass bar that might be open. I'll drive you, you do your do, and then you go away. I don't know what to do with you."


Mike arrived to find Sandie struggling to stuff a dead body into the backseat of her car.

"We're going clubbing," she said.

"Oh, Christ," Mike said, and he meant it.
I feel like this one is absolute crap. It's a hard time for me right now, and it was very hard to focus on this, but I've sat here for an hour now and just can't edit, so please do tear it apart for me. .___.

06-02-2012: Woo, editing accomplished. It's cleaner now.

Chapter 1: [link]
Chapter 2: [link]
Chapter 3: [link]
Chapter 4: [link]
Chapter 5: [link]
Chapter 6: [link]
Chapter 7: YOU ARE HERE
Chapter 8: [link]
Chapter 9: [link]
Chapter 10: [link]
Chapter 11: [link]
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:iconleyghan:
leyghan Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
LOVE THIS CHAPTER SO MUCH I AM USING ALL CAPS LIKE A COMPLETE SPAZZ. :iconlovesqueeplz:
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:iconcallerofcrows:
callerofcrows Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I love it. Especially that last line. Amazing!
Reply
:iconquiestinliteris:
QuiEstInLiteris Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2012  Professional Writer
:heart:
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:iconstormraevyn:
StormRaevyN Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2012  Student General Artist
love the little giggle at the end. Perfect break for the tension of the chapter and Sandie's muddled-ness at communicating with the creature.
Reply
:iconquiestinliteris:
QuiEstInLiteris Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2012  Professional Writer
Heh, thanks. For an exploration of human nature, I'm really trying to keep it upbeat. Glad it's working.
Reply
:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
The only thing is the density of text with the entity. By that I mean that because of the way it speaks, or she remembers, or however you want to put it, it gets tiring to read in big patches. Of course, I could just be lazy, and I have a headache. ^^;

I've had a sense that it was going this direction for a while, which is good, enough but not too much. I don't know enough to pinpoint anything in particular, and I like that suspense. As always, I'm intrigued to find out what's coming next.
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:iconquiestinliteris:
QuiEstInLiteris Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012  Professional Writer
Yeah, I was concerned about that. I'm probably going to end up breaking it up a little with action tags.

Which direction? Obviously, they had to end up coming together... I guess what I'm asking is whether it's too obvious.
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:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
No, not at all. I'm not even sure what's happening next, but the concept I grasped onto early. There was enough foreshadowing for me to gather that there was a reason this thing had sought her out, that there was something it needed. I also picked up on the energy/emotion consuming thing a few segments ago.

I think the level is perfect, though. Enough without being too much, and hey, you're keeping my attention! :D
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:iconquiestinliteris:
QuiEstInLiteris Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2012  Professional Writer
Good, good. Your attention is what I desire. >3
<3
Reply
:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Ahh, an insidious plan! Now you really have my attention. I guess I'm a sucker. :-P
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:iconmaxnort:
maxnort Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2012   Writer
you have multiple threads all converging. This is the hard part of a story, resolution of a plot. Its like a sine wave. [development - resolution]. for some, development is hard. for others resolution is. many people believe that better writers have a problem with resolution instead of development.
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:iconquiestinliteris:
QuiEstInLiteris Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2012  Professional Writer
Oh, we're nowhere near resolution. ._____. This one is filling my head to an obnoxious degree. If things look like they're coming together, it's only because they're about to whiz past each other and swing back out into empty space. xD
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:iconmaxnort:
maxnort Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012   Writer
hmm... good.
Reply
:iconavalon620:
Avalon620 Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2012  Student Writer
HA! :XD: What a quirky ending to this chapter! Very nice. ;)
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:iconquiestinliteris:
QuiEstInLiteris Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2012  Professional Writer
Heh, thanks. :)
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:iconavalon620:
Avalon620 Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2012  Student Writer
Hey, I bet it's a robot or something that is able to take over dead bodies! :wow: ....Ewwwww.... :bleh:
Reply
:iconkay-march:
Kay-March Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2012
I was expecting this chapter, the reception of "the thing" that is
wandering the life of Sandie, a normal person, but lately not so normal, anymore...
your descriptions are always according to my literary taste, intrinsicly poetic, complicated and simple...
Chapter 8 please
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:iconquiestinliteris:
QuiEstInLiteris Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2012  Professional Writer
Yep. Poor Sandie.
I'm very glad you're enjoying it.
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:iconkay-march:
Kay-March Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2012
yes, always...
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:iconxlntwtch:
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2012   Writer
*sigh* Please excuse the usual typos and dropped words below. Thanks. :icondownarrowplz:
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:iconxlntwtch:
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2012   Writer
It's very good, I think. :+fav: I especially like the flow of "It's" 'talk'- the way you use a single word as a sort of counterpoint to longer sentences, making the "thing" 'talk' just like the music you're employing here. It's very rhythmic and even soothing. I can understand why Sandie is ready to use a "scunci" [there's an umlaut over that <-'u'] -a cloth-covered 'rubber band' to tie her hair back- and go clubbing with "It."

I think for ease of reading and consistency, if you're going to separate a thought Sandie has in italics once and write "...she thought.." you do so every time. I got a little confused at... "So, You're here for my brains, or what?" ...even with the quotation marks. Or, have Sandie talk aloud to It all the time. BUT it's up to you, of course. AND I don't think Mike was 'cursing' at all, you made that clear. Thanks again - and I don't thank folks for "absolute crap." ;)
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:iconquiestinliteris:
QuiEstInLiteris Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2012  Professional Writer
Scunci is a name brand, so I'm reluctant to use that.

I do identify Sandie's thoughts whenever they come up, unless it's a conversation and tagging would become tedious. The quote is from the first chapter, and it's embedded within the Thing's memory.
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:iconxlntwtch:
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2012   Writer
Well, lots of women call those things "scrunchies" anyway, not by their brand name (few know how to say it).
Oh...
I had no idea it was a quote from the first chapter, nor that it was the Thing thinking it. :shrug: ...makes me feel like I don't read carefully...eh.
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:iconquiestinliteris:
QuiEstInLiteris Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2012  Professional Writer
>> That probably just means that I need to tag it.
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:iconxlntwtch:
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012   Writer
You're the writer. If nobody else had trouble with it, maybe I'm an anomaly. ;P
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:iconmagdalagarza:
magdalagarza Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I think it's really amazing that you can find the strength to carry on writing. You're awesome.

Anyway, yes, this answers my questions from the previous chapter very handily! A feelings-eater? But it raises still more questions. Where did it come from? Does the title provide a clue as to its nature? And what is this mysterious but undeniably snazzy connection with jazz?

Also, the little touch of Father Mike swearing around the end there made me grin for no reason at all.
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:iconquiestinliteris:
QuiEstInLiteris Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2012  Professional Writer
Well, I couldn't think of anything else to do. .__.

I'm hoping that the questions continue, since the answers will as well. :)
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:iconshineeserendipity:
ShineeSerenDipity Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2012  Student Writer
I think it's great and works perfectly! It's a bit disorienting at first, but as another one of your commenter's said it makes sense given Sandie's situation. Great work, I can't wait to read more! :D
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:iconquiestinliteris:
QuiEstInLiteris Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2012  Professional Writer
<3 Thanks!
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:iconashdancer:
Ashdancer Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2012   General Artist
*applause*
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:iconquiestinliteris:
QuiEstInLiteris Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2012  Professional Writer
:bow:
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:icon914four:
914four Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I love the flow, it's very "real" somehow. I like how the heroine has such a pragmatic approach to dealing with the "other" that makes it perfectly believable, truth being stranger than fiction and all that. I can't wait for chapter eight!
Oh, and Newton is wondering if he might have lost his sunglasses in your flowerbed? ;-)
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:iconquiestinliteris:
QuiEstInLiteris Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2012  Professional Writer
I'll dig through the flowerbed and see if I can find them, but I'm afraid that if they've been there long, the raccoons will have scarpered with them by now. Poor Newton may have to go un-sunglassed.

Glad I'm getting that across. xD In my head, Sandie's primary reaction is something like "Well, you can't make this shit up." Reality is weird.
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:icon914four:
914four Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Be careful digging through the flower bed, Newton likes to... ugh, this is so embarrassing... uh, "commune with nature" in flower beds.
Yes, exactly. Ever read Vicky Pettersson's "Zodiac" series?
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:iconquiestinliteris:
QuiEstInLiteris Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2012  Professional Writer
.__. I'll bear that in mind. I suppose it's better in the flower bed than say, middle of the kitchen floor.

I haven't. Is it one I should add to my reading list?
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:icon914four:
914four Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I would recommend it personally, but only if you are not afraid of violence in your literature. As an avid Lilith Saintcrow reader, I find Pettersson strikes a good balance; her characters are believable in unbelievable situations, able to maintain that which makes them human when exposed to great evils. I would recommend reading "The Scent of Shadows" (the first book in the series) before investing in the rest, if you enjoy it then you will like the rest. I also enjoy Richelle Mead, which my wife finds amusing for some reason.
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:iconquiestinliteris:
QuiEstInLiteris Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2012  Professional Writer
Sounds good. I'll go troll the library for it. :)
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:icon914four:
914four Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Wait, don't you have another chapter to write? ;-)
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:iconquiestinliteris:
QuiEstInLiteris Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2012  Professional Writer
xP Yes, I suppose.
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:iconchoke-ice:
choke-ice Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2012  Hobbyist
I enjoyed it, no complaints from me. Just interested in what happens next
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:iconquiestinliteris:
QuiEstInLiteris Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2012  Professional Writer
^^
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:iconlizardhound:
Lizardhound Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Only one thing here I can see is weird: Sandie uses a rubber band to secure her hair. I've tried several times. It hurts and it's difficult to get out. I doubt anyone would use rubber bands of their own free will. Apart from that, it's great!
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:iconquiestinliteris:
QuiEstInLiteris Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2012  Professional Writer
Lol, I used to use rubber bands when my hair was long. >>; It hurts like hell, but I'm stupid and never learned.
I guess I was envisioning one of those fabric-wrapped ones that supposedly doesn't pull.
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:iconlizardhound:
Lizardhound Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I've always used fabric-wrapped ones, and they're wonderful. Sometimes my hair ties itself in a knot around the band, but that doesn't hurt that much.
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:iconquiestinliteris:
QuiEstInLiteris Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2012  Professional Writer
Hair bands. They're called hair bands. >>; *facepalm* I'm a dunce. I totally knew that.
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:iconlizardhound:
Lizardhound Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Haha :P
I once walked around for three days and couldn't remember the word "arsenic". That's annoying.
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:iconquiestinliteris:
QuiEstInLiteris Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2012  Professional Writer
What comes of getting old, eh?
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:iconlizardhound:
Lizardhound Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
haha, when I get old I'll tell the kids: "When I was young, I had to walk uphill to AND from school!"
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:iconquiestinliteris:
QuiEstInLiteris Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2012  Professional Writer
You fogey.
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(1 Reply)
:iconlittlefishpenguin95:
LittleFishPenguin95 Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I absolutely love this. I can't wait for the next chapter :nuu: You're a really great writer
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