Monday, April 07, 2008

New Beginning 481

“It was a long time ago. The men were all on horses or on foot. They had a prisoner – an old, Indian man. A shaman of some kind, I think. I could see the power in him. In spite of everything that had happened, being tied up, a prisoner, he had more dignity and courage than all the others put together. There was an ambush of some kind. I could see it happening. And then someone shot him. Some kind of animal screamed. And that was the end of the dream. I woke up, and was right here, in my own bed, safe and sound,” I said, sitting at the counter in Verdante and Sophia's lovely kitchen. I left out the part about scared half to death, convinced that whoever or whatever had killed the shaman was coming for me, next.

“Vision, Dulci,” said Verdante.

“Okay, then. Vision.” Sulking a little at the correction, I sipped Sophia's fragrant coffee and waited. Alone in my bed at three in the morning, I got a lot of comfort out of telling myself it really was just a dream. Dreams can’t hurt you.

Of course, I also got a lot of comfort out of imagining Evil Editor was there with me. Until I got a little overzealous, rolled off the bed and wedged my head under the nightstand. Dreams can't hurt you, visions only seem disturbing, but fantasies? Fantasies will bring you down hard every time.

Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: Anonymous


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

"With one exception," I thought. My subconcious fought its way to the surface despite my attempts to keep it tucked away. "The ones where you're flying? If you crash and die in one of those dreams -- you're dead in real life. Enjoy the coffee, Dulci."


"But I can"

I knocked over the lamp in my hurry to illuminate the intruder, who laughed, "It is rather erotic to toy with my victims through... dreams. The orgasm of death is the scream you heard. And don't bother with a light. I'm not here."


But visions...visions can be very real. Maybe tonight I'd have a vision of me and Sophia, with the shaman, Sophia tied up, screaming as we ravage her.

Oh, yes. Sweet dreams indeed.


Nobody spoke as Sophia fixed more coffee.

"Well," I said, feeling the need to fill the void. "At least dreams can't hurt you."

"Vision," Verdante repeated, a little more edge in his voice, as he took a Chocolate Torte out of the fridge.

Sophie smiled. "Except for that one when you're falling and they say if you hit the bottom, you're dead..."

"I suppose," I said. "But my dream was nothing like that..."

"For fuck's sake. It was a Vision!" Verdante thrust the cake knife into my arm. I never saw it coming, I just remember Sophia's wild shriek. I don't talk much about my dreams anymore.


Verdante wheeled himself over to the kitchen counter to pour more coffee. It wasn't easy with one hand and the hot liquid spilled on to the counter.

"Let me," I said.

Verdante turned his remaining eye on me. "I can do it," he snapped. He's been grumpy ever since he broke his ribs and lost three toenails last week. Dreams may not be able to hurt you, but visions sure can.


"I know where I saw him before," I said. "He was the guy I picked up in the bar last night. Thick, bushy muttonchops. Piercing eyes."

Sophia's coffee burned the roof of my mouth. That bastard must have gotten himself untied after I fell asleep. Like hell he was going to look over my manuscript in the morning, the liar. Never again, I vowed. That was the last time that I hooked up with an editor who went in for bondage.


"—more about it?"

"Hunh?" I said. "Oh. Sorry. Woolgathering," I said.

Verdante looked irritated. "We're paying you $99.95 per session," she pointed out.

"Each", Sophia chimed in.

I nodded, trying hard to think. What bullshit could I spew about clairovoyance and visions?

But while I was thinking, a terrible thing happened.

"Hey," Verdante said. "I think I know why that's a vision and not a dream." Her eyes narrowed in suspicion. Sophia, ever the original, followed suit.

"I saw a scene just like that on the History Channel," she said, coming around the island toward me. She smiled in a way that was not reassuring. All those months of wasted money and effort trying to see into a future she could never predict.

"Wounded knee, it was," she said softly. "Like you."


Sophia, who'd been busy cleaning her shiny Cuisinart percolator, paused and looked at Verdante. "Come to think of it," I said, cupping my hands around Sophia's porcelain mug, "didn't they used to call you Verdante the Shaman Slayer?"

Sophia coughed then dried her hands. "Excuse me," she said, "I must just go and feed the peacocks."


Whirlochre said...

Two somekinds are annoying - but THREE? I nearly stopped reading after the third.

Plus - it's a dream sequence, albeit re-told.

However - it gets much better after the first dreamy paragraph. Perhaps you could start there and visit the dream slightly later once we know who the characters are?

As for the dream itself, I'm guessing the protag has only hazy snippets and wild guesses at their meaning. Fine - but don't let everything be 'some kind'.

Evil Editor said...

It's a bit jarring to read so many sentences and then come to "I said." I'd put the "I said" after the first sentence so we know who's talking.

sitting at the counter in Verdante and Sophia's lovely kitchen will sound a bit weird there (if it doesn't anyway), but you don't really need it.

I can't tell if you're alone in your bed reliving this conversation, or if the alone in my bed line comes much later or earlier than the conversation.

It's somewhat of a letdown to discover that the story we've been listening to is a dream. Unless you're going to reveal the significance of this dream immediately, you might want to start elsewhere, even if it's just ten minutes earlier, arriving at Sophia and Verdante's home.

Dave Fragments said...

I'm having trouble moving from the dream/vision world of the prisoner and men on horses and the real world of a girl talking to a female confidant. The words aren't working for me. Sophia's fear isn't real to me.

Bernita said...

My main problem with this over-all is the the smell of cliche: the noble savage, the lovely kitchen, the fragrant coffee.

Robin S. said...

I agree that the "I said" is offputting to the reader where it's currently sitting in the first paragraph. What about rearranging -

Rather than I said, sitting at the counter in Verdante and Sophia's lovely kitchen. I left out the part about scared half to death, convinced that whoever or whatever had killed the shaman was coming for me, next. nestled down in the center - put it first-
something like:

I sat at the counter in Verdante and Sophia's lovely kitchen, and I told them about my vision, leaving out the part that I was scared half to death, and why.

"It was a long time ago..."

I think that reads well - a vision is more than a dream- and- the hook/trouble is introduced immediately.

How does that sound? I think that's the only issue here- and I think something like this fixes it.
Otherwise- I like it.

PS- That continuation is a hoot.

Anonymous said...

It takes most of the first paragraph to show who is speaking ("I") or where they are (kitchen). Could you point us to the setting and/or character asap, ie by putting "I said," after the first sentence or using a beat of action there ("My coffee cup made a watery brown ring on Sophia's pristine pink countertop")

Paragraph 3 threw me temporarily with the jump to a previous past:

"Alone in my bed at three in the morning, I got a lot of comfort out of telling myself it really was just a dream. Dreams can’t hurt you."

This would be clearer if the second phrase read "I had comforted myself by repeating that it really was just a dream."