Friday, January 16, 2015

New Beginning 1038

Chief Detective Tommy Turner flailed in bed, gripped his pillow, moaned, lashed out. He was cold, gasping, and suddenly eyes wide awake. A dim green puddle of electronic status lights lit the room. The bell tower of the Church of St Panfilo Spoltore across the street rang too few times. He heard the never-ending rain on the roof and against the windows; its persistence bringing decay; its burden, guilt.

The three story house, once white brick now brown, leaked, seeped and rotted. Already the basement and first floor were lost to the damp. The gutters bubbled over their edges and flooded the sewers. Brown water gushed into the basement. The pumps struggled to keep it out. Soon, the stone foundation would give way without portent, without ceremony, sucking the house into a muddy hell.

Turner felt Demon’s hand trying to calm him. He pushed it away.

“What’s wrong?” Demon asked. Demon wasn’t its Hellish name, that was its first instrument of torture; an evilness that captured souls, killed at will, inexpressible by human tongues. Hence, it was merely, since the day of the summoning, Demon.

“Chanting,” Tommy spoke in a harsh whisper. He stared at the clock’s greenness - - three-thirty AM. “I thought we agreed no chanting. I thought we agreed the night was mine, no diddling the socks and sheets for fun, no sleep learning, no subliminal messages, just sleep.”

Turner rose from the bed, stumbled to the bathroom, moaned, splashed porcelain. A dim yellow puddle spread toward his bare feet. He heard the never-ending drip in the bathtub and flushed the toilet too few times; its burden, still floating.

The carpet, once plush now threadbare, felt sticky between his toes. Already his side of the bed had grown cold, the mattress sagged, the springs sharp in his back as he settled back in.

Turner felt Demon’s hand again, and did not push it away. “All right,” he said, “maybe a little diddling. But after that, sleep. I need to be up early for the interview with Better Homes and Gardens.”

Opening: Dave Fragments.....Continuation: JRMosher


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuations:

"Yeah?" Demon pulled back the curtain. "You told me that, if I delivered you a monster hurricane that destroyed the Ninth Ward and made you look like a hero, I'd be swimming in booze, girls and crawdads! And what have I gotten?" He yanked his shirt off, revealing a tangled mass of hair and Mardi-Gras beads. "And I can't get this mess off!"

"I told you to shave first."

"I turn the Superdome into a war zone for you, but I'm supposed to shave? This is bullshit."

"Bullshit is you coming home at three-thirty in the morning after not texting!"

"What, I can't have fun because of your job? And you moved us next to a church! What the hell were you thinking?"

They stopped. "Tommy?" whispered Demon. "I--I love you, man. I love you."

"I love you, too."

Together they sat on the bed, watching the storm flatten New Orleans.


"You've only yourself to blame," Demon replied. "You should have checked."

Tommy sighed. I should never have gotten myself into this, he thought. He turned to the source of the status lights: his Dell notebook. At least the WiFi worked.

"You're wasting your time," Demon suggested.

Tommy typed and clicked and started to read:

Accommodations on the Airbnb platform should meet minimum quality standards regarding safety, access, and cleanliness...


"I'm a demon," Demon said.

"I know that," Tommy said.

Green lights flashed like mischievous fairies around their faces. Demon ate one.

"How long have you known?" Demon said.

"Well, you couldn't make it more obvious," Tommy scoffed.

"Can we diddle?" Demon edged closer.


Demon licked Tommy's face. Tommy missed the sweet taste of Demon's saliva, and gave in to the diddle. They finished, out of breath and satisfied.

"I won't tell if you won't," whispered Demon as he passed Tommy a cigarette.

"I'm the detective here, no one ever will find out," Tommy barked.

"Except me, hehe!" a green fairy said. It flew out the window and into the rain with everything caught on its little camera.


Evil Editor said...

Not clear to me what "its burden, guilt" means. The rain's burden bringing guilt?

If the water is gushing into the basement, the pumps are struggling to get it out, not keep it out. It's in.

Not clear why Tommy is complaining about chanting. Who was chanting?

Not clear what you are saying was the demon's first instrument of torture. His real name? His use of the name Demon? His evilness?

Even though I'm not sure what everything means, it all sounds good.

Dave Fragments said...

I read through all of the continuations yesterday and had lots of fun. Good work. I enjoyed them all. They also gave me some better insight into what I was trying to do in the opening.

JRMosher’s continuation:
My first thought was that somebody heard the rain and the saw the gloom of the opening. This is a future world drowning in constant rain. Better Home and Gardens has become an anachronism. The title of the story is “The Curse of Rain Falls” which is a play on words because in the end, the rain is commanded to stop and does. The rain is a 100 year curse. That backstory is spectacular in itself and was written in the early summer of last year.

Khazar-Khum’s continuation:
I could have written that story. It is possible with the history of these two that they might actually have done this - watched NOLA’s destruction. What the opening doesn’t reveal is that they aren’t really two bodies sleeping together. They are two minds sharing one body. This opening matches what I wrote more closely than any of the other openings.

Anon’s continuation:
I’m not alone in characters sharing a bed. That is how Ishmael finds Queequeg and Ishmael says that it is “better to sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.” (in this story, Demon is a devil and Tommy accidentally stumbled into his summoning.) I like the stab at AIRBNB. I used to travel for work and discovered, much to my chagrin, cheap booking agents knew a lot of roach motels. I had to demand good rooms or end up in some near flop house on the cheap - - BUT that’s a digression.

CavalierdeNuit’s continuation:
That’s very funny. I hope I don’t use that many names and said. You twitched an insecurity. There is no green fairy. Sorry about that but I don’t write fairies and the Fae and no one should be offended by that. In the real story there actually is a “I won’t tell if you won’t” moment and a “cigarette” moment. But my characters don’t smoke and never lay back after lovemaking and bask in the glow (or the wet spot). That’s one device I’d rather not use.

I'm looking forward to seeing other comments on the opening.

khazarkhum said...

Dave--I wondered if it was one body, two personalities, or two separate people. I thought two people would be funnier.

I am pleased that, in your opinion, mine matched yours the closest.

Now I want to read the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if this will be helpful.

This reminded me of how my writing gets when I'm paying too much attention to the words (sound of the words?) Yes, they mean something, but I get caught in the sound, so the meaning doesn't hold on to me. I read it listening to the music of the language and in the end have lost the thread of plot.

Maybe move the second paragraph elsewhere? It seems more world building that needs some plot related reason for me to care (if he woke up noticing the pump broke, it might work better)

Anonymous said...

Hmm, location, location...

We start in the bedroom, go outside across the street, go back to the roof, drip down to the basement, up to the gutters, down to the sewers, slightly up to the basement, tie in to hell and the demon, then jump back to the bedroom.

Maybe line it all up a little more? I feel like bungie jumping ;/

Dave Fragments said...

I may run out of time tonight but I will start.

It should read "His burden, his guilt." One of those tiny things I missed in all the writing. The rain is Tommy's curse. He's the one responsible for it raining. The rain defeats technology and destroys hope. Tommy and Demon killed someone and the rain is familial revenge.

Pumps - Ooops. That's right. An easy fix.

Demon's face and name - I understand that but it will be unclear to the reader. When the demon inside Tommy reveals his face in place of Tommy's face, then people die at the sight. Even the saying of his name can be a killing event. If not death then utter madness results. Tommy uses Demon to get out of trouble and Demon (after all these years) resents it. However, if Demon takes over Tommy by force, Tommy will die and Demon will go back to Hell. Tommy has to choose it. That's more than you asked me in explanation of the internal rules I established for Demon's nature.

The Chanting - Not because of your comment but on my own, I made it "Hell-Speak" rather than chanting. Demon has been trying to teach Tommy magic and spells but Tommy, like all fourteen year olds is just existing. They have been together for a century and Tommy will not listen. When Demon tried dream learning and subliminal learning, Tommy complains. If Demon takes control of their shared body and does what Tommy doesn't want, then Tommy complains and whines and threatens. Demon must back away. Think of it as making a teenager run your life when the "lump of sullen" kid doesn't want to grow up. However, even that life is better than Hell.

There is a coven chanting the same spell that Tommy barged into and that coven is summoning Demon (A second time). That's why Tommy can hear it. . . The spell takes several days and is disturbing Tommy's sleep. Sleep is when Demon can heal Tommy and extend his life or change his appearance. That's how I set up the symbiosis.

So much backstory, huh?
I'll discuss the rest late tonight or tomorrow.
(The discussion helps me focus)

Dave Fragments said...


I hoped someone guessed that they only had one physical body and they quarrel with each other.
Tommy is really in control. When he has a bad day and can't use Demon's help (because it might reveal his presence) then Tommy gets surly and grumpy.
It's the insecurity that makes him recoil at Demon's efforts.

Dave Fragments said...


I do have my worries about the density of the opening. It carries lots in those few words. I used to think that it might be too much then I read a few critically acclaimed novels and paid attention to how the authors wove their stories. I don't think this is too dense or too quick. I have ripped the opening apart three times and rewrote it.

I don't see it as leaving the bedroom so much as it is Tommy laying in a cold sweat hearing the church bells and the rain. The rain is slowly destroying his house. The rain will destroy everything, eventually.
Then we are are back in bed with him and Demon.
And he is either sleeping with a demon or possessed or crazy. After that, I have to insert a bit of drama to carry forward.
So we meet Demon who is as fearful as we imagine and we learn that Detective Tommy Turner is not a good guy but someone consorting with devils.

Shortly we also learn that there is a great deal of "magic" in the world. That magic is not card tricks or disappearing rabbits but evil magic resulting in possession and power.

We also have to learn why Demon stayed in this arrangement for so long.

And then there is knocking at the door. It is his partner with word of five murders.

This is, after all, a murder mystery.

Dave Fragments said...

BTW - this is one of the quotes that drove the story:
Death dressed as the Hogfather speaking to Susan, his granddaughter:
Down in the deepest kingdoms of the sea, where there is no light, there lives a type of creature with no brain and no eyes and no mouth. It does nothing but live and put forth petals of perfect crimson where none are there to see. It is nothing but a tiny yes in the night. And yet... And yet... It has enemies who bear it a vicious, unbending malice, who wish not only for its tiny life to be over but also that it had never existed.

Dave Fragments said...

I like that new banner at the top of your page. It gives the blog a new look.

khazarkhum said...

Dave--in your response to EE, you say "Demon has been trying to teach Tommy magic and spells but Tommy, like all fourteen year olds is just existing."

Whoa Nelly. I thought Tommy was a detective. Now he's 14, living with Demon for a century. That's surreal.

Can I have some of what you're having?

Dave Fragments said...

Why did Demon stay in such an arrangement?
It's very simple.
Thousands of pairs of eyes, the devils in Hell, angels fallen from grace, removed from the light, stared longingly at the rainclouds that covered the sky and the mud that covered the earth. They wept in agony. That brief vision of Paradise Lost would haunt them for however long Time remained.

khazarkhum said...

Dave--isn't that the whole point of Hell? to remember, but never be able to have?

Anyway--how old is Tommy? And just out of curiosity, what did he do?

Dave Fragments said...

This story reveals itself in a very non-linear way. However, none of the characters is reliable and that will become obvious as you read.

About 100 years before on Halloween, Tommy Turner (14 and a bit awkward, held back a year before even starting first grade. He wrestles and plays sports and will never be a scientist) walked into a seance of three of the "smart and pretty 14 year-old girls” summoning a devil. (I didn’t say “nice” girls. The “b” word comes to mind.) Things went very wrong. The devil torches the girls, the house, and kills Tommy’s two buddies and summons the Angel of Death to take the Sheriff who discovered the spell book. An eventful Halloween.
But the devil doesn’t want to return to Hell so he stays with Tommy not quite possessing him and not quite leaving him.
Turns out, that the lead girl's Grandmother was a witch and it was her spell book. So she curses the world into a semi-time-warp, stasis-type thing. As long as she lives, it will never stop raining. People can die but technology stops developing and everything stays the same. Little by little the rain, the wet and the dampness destroys. It shortens life spans. It crumbles mountains.
Tommy survives because Demon keeps renewing his body each night. Tommy and Demon are on their fourth life. That means there are three generations that have not seen the sun. Tommy has adjusted to being a grown up but has not grown mentally. He doesn’t take responsibility for much of anything while Demon tolerates the arrangement because he doesn’t want to return to Hell.
The Witch, on the other hands, survives by taking other’s life-forces and is searching for the boy who killed her granddaughter and stole her spell book. She will see the world die in a watery grave before she lifts the curse.
This story opens with five sacrificial murders that are the prelude to the Witch's new coven opening the gates of Hell and completing her revenge.

CavalierdeNuit said...

My one gripe is maybe you could be more creative with Demon's name. I have a dictionary of demons and demonology, and when I need a good name I look it up. There are many demons out there that don't go by "Demon".