GATE (The Daily Post Prompt)

He made a choice.

Jack didn’t remember dying. He remembered the bridge and waiting for the trains to come. He remembered laughter and friends and the taste of cheap, stolen beer. He remembered her hand in his asking about the future.

He didn’t remember the moment the other one came. He was an older man, with hair like Einstein. He wore flip-flops and board shorts. His shirt had images of pineapples. Jack liked pineapples.

The man called himself, Sal. He was fast-talking, like a used car salesman from a small town. Jack didn’t understand why no one else could see Sal. Maybe he was the only one drunk off the beer.

Jack couldn’t feel her hand anymore. He reached out to touch her face but his hand went straight through her, like she was a ghost. It would take him several more attempts before he realized he was the one who was no longer solid.

His eyes searched Sal, pleading with the old, strange man for some answers. Sal only spoke in riddles about gates and choices and the end and recruits.

“There isn’t much time, kid. We need to get to the Gate,” Sal said.

Jack didn’t understand. He wanted to ask questions, but he felt lost, confused and unable to control his own body. His eyes closed. His breathing slowed.

And then they were at the ocean.

How? Jack thought. Weren’t they on a bridge just seconds ago?

“Listen, kid. This is the Gate. Here is where it happens,” Sal said.

What happens? What Gate? Jack didn’t see a gate. He saw the darkness of the water, but he did not hear the sound of waves.

“I need you to make a decision. The others will be here soon,” the old man said. “You chose to go through the Gate to whatever fate waits for you on the other side or you stay on this side and I give you a job.”

Sal said it so matter-of-factly, like it made perfect sense. Maybe it did. Maybe the choice was easier than anything else Jack ever did. He was curious about the Gate. Where did it go? And why was it kept in the ocean? He had questions. He knew he should be asking something. He needed more details, more information about the Gate and the Job. Mostly, he needed to ask why he was here.

But Jack didn’t ask questions. He watched the water. He remembered what the ocean sounded like, but did not hear it. He could not smell it. Jack knelt down in the sand. He dragged his fingertips through the sand, but felt nothing.

“Kid, do you understand what I’ve told you? You go or you stay. It’s your choice,” Sal said. Had he been talking this whole time, Jack wondered. “Hey, kid, you hear me? They’re here. What’s your decision?”

Jack saw the others walking out of the ocean.

He made a choice.

©Danielle Tauscher, 2017

 

This prompt is from The Daily Post: GATE

The Vessel

We slid inside his skin. We stretched our new limbs, trying them on for size. This one fit perfectly like it was made for us. We roamed around his memories. That was our favorite part. Humans were an odd species. They longed for connection with others, but they held back their dark secrets. Humans were so afraid of being alone and left behind. They hadn’t realized we left them long ago. They searched the universe for us, the answers to the questions. We were always a moment out of reach. It was a game we played. We laughed at the humans. Such children, such animals. They were beneath us.

This boy was barely seventeen. He struggled against us. He felt us creep through his mind. He knew we were inside. He was rare. Most humans barely noticed our presence when we took over their bodies. They chalked up the invasion to a cold or lack of sleep. Never could they imagine it was us.

Yet, this one knew. He was who we waited for.

He would be the one to end our banishment.

 

©Danielle Tauscher, 2017

Cicadas

We laid next to each other in the grass, our fingers almost touching. Once upon a time, I wouldn’t have noticed the space between us. Our fingers would be intertwined without a second thought. Our thighs would touch without the heat and electricity of something on fire. Something had changed between us. I doubted Marlow had even noticed the way I started to keep my distance from her, not wanting to place flesh on flesh.

Last night Brady took Marlow to the pop up carnival. We had gone during the day when it was all families and children too scared to ride the Ferris wheel. Marlow begged me to ride it with her, ignoring my fear of heights. I distracted her with a promise of cotton candy and the Tilt-a-Whirl. Marlow dragged me through the carnival, holding my hand and laughing. She pretended she was a princess and I, the court jester, who made magic out of thin air and promises never kept. She teased me, playfully, about my avoidance of the Ferris wheel. She said, “Be Brave, Scotty,” but all I could hear was heartbreak.

I kept my eyes closed as Marlow talked about the Ferris wheel and Brady. It was the first time she was allowed to go somewhere after dark with a boy. I had wanted to remind her that she went everywhere with me after dark, and that I was a boy. Marlow didn’t see me that way. I was just Scotty. I stopped listening to the words about love and kisses that fell from Marlow’s mouth.

I could only hear the way the cicadas sang out, like a low hum. They sang softly at first, barely noticeable, just background noise. And then louder and louder until they drowned out every other summer sound. Until they drowned out the image of Brady and Marlow kissing at the top of the Ferris wheel. I wanted to shout at her that it was such a cliché. That everyone knew Brady took all the girls to the Ferris wheel to kiss. I wanted to tell her she could do better than Brady.

I wanted to be brave. I wanted to slide my fingers between hers and say the words about love and kisses. It had always been Marlow and Scotty. We were in this together, but I felt her drifting away. I was falling behind. Marlow was ready to grow up, and I would always be just her court jester making magic out of thin air and promises never kept.

©Danielle Tauscher, 2017

 

*The original prompt was not as inspiring to me as the sound of cicadas on a hot summer night.

IMG_7096.JPG

The Door

Mabel hated Simon. He was the one person—if you could call him a person—standing in her way. She needed to move on. She needed to go through the door. But Simon, with his stupid flaming fire eyes and wings, forbade her. Who did he think he was? He was a servant. He was a guard. He wasn’t anyone special. She could punch him in the nose and run passed him before he even realized what happened.

Well, Mabel, tried that three times before giving up. Who knew the horned bastard was so strong? The name Simon didn’t evoke powerful in her mind. She imagined a chipmunk wearing glasses. That was her mistake. Simon didn’t even give her the courtesy of flinching.

Simon was a dick. And he stood in her way.

“I need to go through, Simon, please move,” Mabel said in the sweetest voice she could muster up and for her it wasn’t that sweet. She gritted her teeth and smiled. She was certain she looked like a monster trying to smile at its prey.

“Not happening, Mabel,” Simon said.

“But I said please.” Mabel considered twirling a piece of her hair around her finger or winking or whatever the human girls did to get what they wanted. She didn’t understand the magic, but admired it. She lacked magic of any kind unless you considered soul zapping magic, which she did not. It was a party trick.

“Finally, you’ve learned some manners,” Simon said. “But you’re not going through this door.” Simon rolled his shoulders back just a fraction, but it was enough for Mabel to take a step back. He was frighteningly beautiful for a demon or an angel or whatever he was.

He was a dick.

Mabel disliked being wingless. Everyone had wings. Simon’s wings were glorious and blood-red. All Mabel had were two scars on her shoulder blades where her wings should have been. She wondered what color her wings would have been if she had been allowed to keep them. Mabel liked to think they would have been a black almost midnight blue color. It didn’t matter. Wings or no wings, Mabel couldn’t go through the door without Simon’s permission and he would never give it to her.

Dick.

“Simon, I need to know. Please. Just a peek,” she asked. Begging was beneath her, but at this point she would try anything. She needed to know what was through the door. She needed to see what the winged ones saw. Mabel needed to belong just once before it was over.

Simon sighed. He relaxed his body just a little. The fire in his eyes burned softer. “There’s nothing behind the door, Mabel. It’s a trick. It’s a lie. Just an exit into nothing,”

“You’re telling me it’s an exit? What in the hell does that even mean? There is no exit. We don’t exit, Simon. We don’t walk through a door to nothing. Why would it need a guard? Why would it be a big secret? Simon, you’re a liar,” Mabel said, clutching her hands into fists. She wanted to punch him in the face again even with the knowledge she couldn’t hurt him.

“It’s the way out of here, Mabel. There is more to the universe than us. If you went through the door, you wouldn’t be able to come back. You’d be gone to this world forever,” Simon explained, but Mabel stopped listening.

There was more to the universe than us? How could that be? This was the only world Mabel knew. The magical winged creatures and the horned beasts of hell or heaven or wherever. That was real. Mabel’s heart ached. More than ever she needed to go through the door. She needed to see for herself if Simon spoke the truth.

Mabel whispered, “I don’t belong here, Simon.”

“This is your home.”

“No, it isn’t. If there is more out there, Simon, I want to see it. I want to know it,” Mabel said. She hadn’t realized until that moment how much she meant it. She would go through the door and she would see everything.

“I can’t let you. I shouldn’t have told you. Go away, Mabel. I’m done,” Simon said. The fire returned to his eyes, he stood taller and spread out his wings blocking the door completely.

Mabel wasn’t about to let Simon stop her. She could bring fire to her eyes, maybe not quite like Simon or the others, but there was a fire inside her stronger than all the angels and demons had combined. She was going through the door.

“Come with me, Simon.”

From behind his mighty wings, Mabel heard the door open.

Mabel smiled.

©Danielle Tauscher 2017

 

*Writing prompt from terribleminds

Writer Brain

So I’m trying to write a 1000 word story with the words: There is no exit.… for this website and I’m drawing a blank. It’s such a great line and I can use it as a title or a line in the story.

So far I have:

He steadied his hands. It angered him when they shook without his permission. Gabriel called it a nervous tic. Every one of them developed some kind of tick sooner or later. But Jack was different. He had to be different.

And then I’m all like….

Okay… now what? I don’t like those names. He doesn’t feel like a Jack. Jack is someone else. Maybe he’s just He. Maybe I’m thinking too much. It’s about death. Is it? I don’t know. Everything is about death with you. Maybe he’s a ghost. Jack the ghost who has shaky hands. Maybe. Who knows. Clearly not me. This line makes me think of the book, AMERICAN PSYCHO. That book was nuts. The last line of the book is: THIS IS NOT AN EXIT. So, now that crazy psycho is in my head and now I’m thinking about rats. Ew. I’m so happy they chose not to put that scene in the movie. What was I doing? Right. What is this 1000 word story about? Death? Ghosts? Being stuck in the middle seat on an airplane? Being stuck anywhere? No exit makes me nervous. What if I want to leave? I wonder what would happen if Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland met? Jack is a good name. It’s his name, but not this his because that make’s sense. I probably shouldn’t be drinking coffee.

And that my friends is the writing process.