Samstag, 30. Oktober 2010

The Story

It was late already. Outside the sky was - no, not black. Dark purple stretched over the valley, with specks of clouds and a thin sliver of silver moon. Theresa knew the scenery by heart, and she hated it. She spent almost every night at the office, between stacks of paper, looking for THE STORY. Most things her reporters brought her, however, were rubbish.

Tonight was no different. The sad leftovers of a Subway sandwich lay on the desk, pushed aside so Theresa could go through the stories that had been handed in late. Her phone was right next to her, with the printers' phone on speed dial, just in case she actually founf THE STORY. But that was rather unlikely. They had the usual U.F.O. sightings, someone claiming to be a werehyena, a haunted house and a conspiracy involving tab water and alien microbes. This was pretty strange even by their standards.

Theresa believed that the truth was out there, somewhere, beneath that purple night sky, but so far she hadn't seen any of it. Since starting as a young and excited reporter here at "USA Truth", she had been looking for the real thing. And there had been good stories, but nothing that wouldn't make her former class mates laugh. Now she was closer to 40 than 30, and had nothing to show for her life. Over the last few months, she had felt herself become increasingly bitter and desperate, and this morning she had detected the first hint of gray hidden between her deer-colored ringlets.

A knock at the door, and only a moment later Peter pushed his head into his room.

"Yeah?"

"Hi Theresa." He coughed. "You know, I wanted to talk to you about that story I handed in last week..."

Theresa sighed. "We had that already. No. No way am I going to print this short before Halloween. We will be the laughing stock of the press."

Peter looked sad. In fact, he didn't look good at all. His skin had a yellowish wax appearance, and his eyes had sunken back into his skull so far they were hardly visible in the weak light of her desk lamp.

"You know what", she said and pushed her chair back, "we should both go home." She knew that she wouldn't head straight home, but do her routine at the gym first. All this fastfood was starting to take its toll. She wanted to look good and happy when the old gang reunited in December.

Peter shook his head. "No, Theresa, you gotta listen. I've done some more research over at the ruins. And my informant was right, there are dozens of oildrums with strange stuff in them!"

She stopped in her tracks, halfway bent down to pick up her purse. "Tell me you didn't open them." Stories about toxic waste always increased their circulation, but she rather liked Peter. Although he certainly was stupid enough to take a sip of any strange glowing liquid, just to know what it would do.

"No, I didn't... one of it was leaking, that's how my informant knew about it. I took samples and brought them to different labs to be tested."

Great. Just great. In her head a new headline appeared, "USA TRUTH REPORTER SPREADS DEATH THROUGH VALLEY!"

She looked at him, her stomach tight. Considering his looks, that stuff had not been orange juice. "Okay, and now what?"

"Well, the labs haven't answered my calls, and when I went there, no one answered the door." Peter moved in closer, his feeth eavy, gait tired. "My informant seems to have disappeared as well."

Maybe he was onto something after all. "Okay, I give in." Theresa pressed the speed dial button. "Your story will make front page tomorrow. I want it down at the press in ten minutes. But you have to make some changes. No way are we going to print anything containing the word 'zombie' in the headline."

Peter grinned. His teeth glistened, stained and crooked. As he came closer, his body odour crept through the room. Definitely unhealthy, she'd take him to the hospital herself right away.

"Now jump back to your office! They're waiting!" Theresa forced a smile on her face. She'd have herself tested as well, just to be sure. "Tell you what, after that we're grabbing a snack somewhere to celebrate, okay?"

"Sound great", Peter's grin widened, "can I have your liver?"

Sonntag, 24. Oktober 2010

Sorry!!!

Sorry I haven't been writing much these last few weeks... but I am not dead! And no one's after me, either (as far as I know). I promise proper writing will resume as soon as things are a little more relaxed around here!

Freitag, 22. Oktober 2010

Cold

"No, Thaddius, get off that table. Now!"

Thaddius was not impressed. He sat on the breakfast table, lapping the remaining drops of milk from her cereal bowl. His orange tail curled around his legs like a content furry snake.

Sophia clapped, sharp - and the cat was gone. She smiled, despite her lack of sleep and the tedious tasks ahead of her. It worked every time. From the moment they had got him, Thaddius had been a scaredy cat. Every lout sound, every unexpected movement sent him under the sofa, fast like a lightning. He would sit there for hours, whiskers twitching, waiting until he was completely sure the area was safe once more. Sophia had never seen a cat that was this easily frightened. Hence the name Thaddius - she had thought it was hilarious.

There was barely enough time to put everything away, grab a yogurt and run for the subway. A quick glance outside - pale October sun, a few clouds, yellow and brown leaves everywhere. She had better take the long brown scarf today - the least thing she needed right now was yet another cold. Sophia grabbed the empty cereal bowl, put it in the sink and opened the fridge. She ignored the bread crumbs her father had left on the table. There'd be time for thorough cleaning when she returned home. Right now, all she had time for was grabbing some strawberry yogurt from the back of the fridge.

"Sophia, are you ready? You're running late!" her mother yelled from the bedroom.

"I know!" Sophia yelled back. she hit her head on the door frame of the fridge and cursed softly.

Thaddius, curious as any cat, approached the open fridge for new adventures. He looked inside, then suddenly hissed and dashed from the kitchen.

"Little coward!" Sophia called after him, then bent down once more for her yogurt. She'd never make it till lunch without a snack. That stupid cat, what dangers could there be in a fridge, for God's sake?

She froze with shock, and everything around her turned cold. It was looking at her, and not with friendly eyes.

Freitag, 8. Oktober 2010

Research

As everybody knows, research for writers, for a huge part, consists of watching people. You can't make things up in your mind all the time. You have to have real people, to observe and steal their behavior.

Sometimes it's enough to sit in a café and relax, keep your eyes open. But other scenarios demand more effort on the writer's part.

And this is why I am sitting here, in my basement. The basement is cool and dark, and I like working here. There's no telling how much time has gone by, and the others know never to disturb me down here. In the early years my family used the basement to put their stuff here, but in the meantime everything has been moved to the garage, and I have plenty of room.

I watch, for a while, closely, and then I continue typing.

... The huge needles sticking out of his body glinted in the harsh neon light, and the blood pouring down his white body appeared chemical. The colors were too intense for words, and it was no longer necessary to talk. The pleas had ceased...

Freitag, 1. Oktober 2010

Niagara Falls

The ticket to Canada had cost almost all his remaining money. After two nights at the hotel and riding the boat around the Falls he now was completely broke. But it didn't matter anymore.

When Laura had left him, she had taken everything with her. Clothes, furniture, pictures - even the baby's room, complete with carpet and fairy tale curtains. She had left nothing in return, especially no note saying, "I am sorry, I couldn't cope with the situation" or "I promise I'll be back".

He had spent the first three days in bed. The first day, he had called his boss and mumbled something about a bad cold. There had been some old cheese in the fridge for dinner.

The second day, he had finished off all his beer.

On the third day, when his boss had called him back, worried something might be seriously wrong, he had shouted at him and called him a stupid prick and had put down the receiver without waiting for the boss to fire him. Then he had gone to the bank, taken all his remaining money and boarded a plane to Canada.

He had always wanted to see Niagara Falls. Ever since he had first watched a documentary about it on TV. He thought it was only appropriate to at least fulfill this dream of his before it was over.

The experience had been disappointing. The weather had been bad, and in his imagination everything had been bigger. After the boat ride, he had returned to his room, wet as a surfing chipmunk, and had gone to bed in his dirty clothes. The shoes stood in the middle of the room, looking like sad baby seals.

Another morning came, and the rain was still there. Surely it had overstayed its welcome. But there was nothing to be done about it. This was the day. He sneaked out of the room, quietly, using the emergency exits, since he couldn't pay his full bill. It was early in the morning, the sky a dark gray, and there was hardly anybody about. He took the meandering path down to the Falls, where you were supposed to have the best view. Walking through the rain, he let all the "what ifs" pass through his memory once more.

What if they hadn't met.

What if the baby had been alive.

What if they had talked to each other.

Each of them ugly and demanding and pointing at him, shouting, "You failed! It's your fault!"

The water looked like a blanket cascading over the shoulder of the Falls. He imagined the Falls to be a fat, sleeping lady, slightly stirring in her sleep. It must be cold, sleeping here, out in the open. And with the dreadful weather!

The roaring of the water drowned out his thoughts, and he felt a strange peace settling inside him. Maybe this wasn't the day.

Maybe this was another day.