Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Beginning 806

Angie traipsed downstairs, sluiced her mug, then went to put the kettle on, all the while ignoring the black-skinned demon squatting on the sofa.

She preferred to sit in the chair anyway.

"You made me." Its perennial complaint.

Black demon, black tea. She dropped a tea bag into the mug from a height. Missed. Grabbed a handful more from the box and scattered them, in the hope one might land in the right place. That first time, she'd thought the milk had just turned. Coming in through the door with a new carton, she'd realised her mistake, feeling it turn to yoghurt in her hands.

Back then she'd still noticed the smell.

"You were supposed to be beautiful," she said, making this the 231st day in succession on which she'd broken her vow.

The sofa creaked as the demon raised its melon-shaped head. One of those honeydew melons--the oval ones.

"I am beautiful."

Angie laughed. "In your dreams."

She could only blame herself. Sure, it was the demon that curdled the milk, but the clumsiness was her own. She had meant to sprinkle the potion on the spaghetti sauce jar, to bring to life her own beautiful Paul Newman. But a sneeze took her at that instant, and instead she splashed it onto the devil's food cake--

A shadow fell across the kitchen. She sighed and looked up through the skylight.

"HO, HO, HO!!"

-- and a small can of Niblets.

Opening: BuffySquirrel.....Continuation: Anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

Angie was gullible -- she knew that. Number one victim of the most misleading advertising.

The black demon hacked up a ball of slime and wiped it onto a throw cushion. At least this one was relatively quiet. Not like the others.

She could blame the kid for this, though. Taken in herself by the cutesy picture, she had quickly given in to Bobby's whining and let him clip the coupon and send it off, and it was fine at first. Until the kid fed his father's protein powder to the Sea Monkeys.


She reached for the cookie jar, then recoiled as she noticed the thick green mould coating all her favourite Chocolate Chip. They were just bought yesterday. She turned back toward the demon. "Did you...?"

He didn't say anything. He squinted his eyes, let out a deep grunt, and the squatting demon deposited a shiny, tar-like turn on her sofa. "Sorry." He said. "Better out than in."

Instinctively, Angie reached for a knife. "That's it!" She yelled. "Enough. Enough already! I can't take it anymore. You have got to go."

The demon glared up at her. "It's because I'm black, isn't it?"


"You don't appreciate me," whined the demon. "I've given up everything for you. My family, my friends, my old job..."

"You won't even look for work," said Angie.

"Because when I'm at work all you do is call to see where I am! You always accuse me of cheating." Tears fell from the demon's eyes. "You know I love you. You're the only one for me."

Angie stalked from the room.

Sniffling, the demon dialed the phone. "Hello...Jerry Springer? I need your help."



"You made me," it said again, and even this whine was vinegary.

She hadn't made him, of course, but she couldn't admit that now. Not after all the praise. Not after they'd all gasped in awe at her talent, at her unnatural skill.

It was still less than a year since the crocheted toilet roll cover incident. How could she possibly tell the ladies of the W.I. that she got her demon out of a can?


Yes, she'd made him. Yes, he was supposed to be beautiful. But he didn't turn out at all like the picture she'd had. She'd dropped here here and pearled one when she ought to've cast and what had possess'd her to think she could've knitted a sock monkey anyhow?


Angie sighed. Dreams were too fragile. He'd promised, but nothing had changed.

She gave up on the tea and grabbed the gin bottle. Somehow he couldn't touch that. While the dark demon nodded his head and began to snore, Angie dropped into her chair and grabbed the new Women's Digest. Maybe she'd heve more luck with this month's Knit Your Own Sarah Palin.


The sofa creaked again and the demon's head once more drooped.

Yes, in its dreams the demon was beautiful, but awake, it knew the truth. It was an ugly, melon-headed speck. Like many demons, it suffered from body dysmorphic disorder: a somatoform disorder marked by a preoccupation with an imagined defect in appearance that causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Demons are sensitive and calling undue attention to their ungainly, fruit-shaped appendages can cause severe, sometimes chronic, psychological distress. Anyone considering conjuring up a demon from the fifth void should consider carefully if they truly have the resources and stability needed to provide a supportive and caring home and lifestyle, and can cater to the demon's very specific needs, bearing in mind that demons don't even like fucking yoghurt.


Amy said...

This is good as is. I'd read on.

Evil Editor said...

I'm used to "sluice" referring to much larger amounts of water than would be involved in rinsing a teacup.

Angie seems to be in the kitchen. Is that where the sofa is?

There seems to be a reason she isn't just placing a teabag in the cup, but it isn't clear what that reason is. Perhaps she could just make the tea and make a point of not adding milk because the demon makes that impossible.

I'm not sure how you feel milk turning to yogurt. Does the amount of yogurt created from a carton of milk weigh more than the milk did? Also, wouldn't it just spoil or turn to cottage cheese? Cheese and yogurt require bacteria, but yogurt requires higher temperatures.

I'm not sure what her vow was. It sounds like it was not to say "You were supposed to be beautiful."? More likely it was not to talk to the demon at all?

Milk: $3.50 a gallon.
Yogurt: $1.00 a cup.
Is there a reason she hasn't started a yogurt business?

Anonymous said...

I'm confused about the teabag drop. "From a height"? When she scatters them, I guess she's throwing teabags in the general direction of the mug -- but it isn't making sense. "That first time" immediately afterward refers to another time, another problem. I can't keep up.

"She preferred to sit in the chair anyway." Meh. My issue with the demon on the sofa was not that it was taking up precious seating room.

"Its perennial complaint." Is that a complaint? The demon seems to like itself.

What smells? The sour milk/yoghurt? The demon?

All that said, I'm kind of hooked. I get a strong sense of the relationship between Angie and the demon. I'd just like better guidance. You don't need the numerous mini-mysteries, since you've got this, well, this demon in the drawing room.

Laurel said...

I'm intrigued, but I'm also confused. What's up with the tea bags not hitting the cup? Why did milk turn to yogurt on its own? Did Angie notice the smell of the demon or the yogurt? What was the nature of her vow - silence or mentioning the demon's beauty?

Clarity issues aside, I like the voice and I would read on - at least for a while, but if things didn't clear up soon, I'd stop.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Hey BuffySq, great continuation.

Anonymous said...

This isn't bad. But the first sentence threw me. It may just be me; I have an allergic reaction to thesauri. The words "traipse" and "sluice" did not fall naturally into the sentence. The latter for the reason EE said, and the former for POV reasons.

If this is Angie's POV, is she likely to describe her descent as traipsing? It's a word that's used (if at all) derogatorily, to belittle the traipser.

I was intrigued by the demon but then completely thrown by the teabags. I make tea at least three times a day, and though I may occasionally put the teabag into the wrong vessel, or pour the hot water into the dog's dish, I never miss. And I can't imagine, having missed, grabbing a whole bunch of teabags and throwing them. That gesture didn't ring true to me, and I'm a world-class slob.

Dave Fragments said...

I went to the dictionary over "sluice" too. Perhaps it's because one of the most difficult fluid dynamics problems for chem eng's like me is flow in a sluice or channel.

I think you are trying to hard. This is fun and you are not letting it be fun.

I'm also not sure of what is being referred to when you say "that first time." I think it might be when she realized that she materialized the demon.

Anonymous said...

Love the concept. But following the particulars of your prose was challenging. Numerous riddle-like bits left me puzzled as to what you meant, or otherwise what was going on. Needs another draft, taking into account the sad reality that readers need a little more orientation because nothing is ever obvious to anybody but you.

vkw said...

I liked the voice and I found the opening catchy. I'm hooked. I would read on.

But I have all the problems the others commmented on:

Sluiced, doesn't fit in with the voice even if it was correct. Try "rinsed".

You may want to add something about her moving from the kitchen to the front room.

I'm not understanding what is going on the teabags. But that's good and bad. I still liked the opening.

milk sours it doesn't turn to yoghurt. The smell of sour milk would be what gives the spoiling away. (I once left a gallon of milk in the car's trunk. It was summer. I discovered it when the gallon broke. The smell was so horrid, I couldn't drive the car without gagging and my eyes watering. Took months to totally get rid of the smell. Months and expensive detailing.)

Whoever wrote the last continuation, that was so beautiful. I would love to write a psychological farse. That continuation would be perfect for it.

By the way, Michael Jackson probably had body dysmorphic disorder, along with a few others.

vkw said...

follow up comment. I liked the line "making this the 231st day in succession on which she'd broken her vow."

However, it was kind of a let down, because my mind went to - if she hasn't figure out how to resolve the problem, (assuming its getting rid of the ugly demon by now) what's the chances she's going to do it now?

I would actually change it under 100 days. Or make it 100th day, to maybe hint this day is going to be different.


Anonymous said...

Funny, I had the same reac as vkw to the 231st... I originally misread it as "31st", which would work better.

Otherwise she seems like a slacker. On the 31st day, she hasn't tried everything yet.

iago said...

See, I come from a different land where the language is used slightly differently, and slucied and traipsed fit just fine for me.

Not sure why the complaint is a "perennial" one if she's only know the demon for 231 days, though.

I had the same "that's not how you make youghurt" thought that EE mentioned.

I kind of like it, the opening, but also kind of feel it's a little too conscious of itself.

_*rachel*_ said...

Not my type of story, but I like it. A few things--like the tea--took me a second read to quite understand, but when I did I liked the way the action illustrated her mood and character.

Speaking from recent experience, spoiled milk can get very yogurt-like. Bleh.

Good luck!

Phoenix Sullivan said...

I kind of like it, the opening, but also kind of feel it's a little too conscious of itself.

Kind of like your comment, eh, Iago?

Nice to see back here. Missed ya.

Buffy: Like Anon 1:18 said, I love the concept, but the particulars seem off a bit. I'll spot you "traipsed" and "sluiced" based on Iago's comment, but other word choices seem puzzling: "dropped," "from a height," "scattered," "that first time," "feeling," and "in succession."

It all just feels a little rough and detached.

Zachary Gole said...

I was thinking of mentioning that I was a little thrown by the word "sluice", but then I read the other comments, and, uh, it appears that that point may have already been mentioned. (Of course, I suppose I have now just mentioned it in the course of explaining why I decided I didn't need to mention it, so... never mind.)

The other thing that threw me was the line "Black demon, black tea." Uh, yes... so? There is more than one thing that is black; I don't see why this is an interesting observation, or one that Angie would make under the circumstances. It just seemed weird and out of place.

I didn't have the problem some others did with the tea-dropping. I'm guessing that she couldn't just put the tea in the mug because if she got her hand too near the mug the tea would somehow go bad the same way her milk turned to yogurt. I did wonder, if this was the case, how she then planned to drink the tea after she had finally gotten the bag into the water, but I was willing to trust that later events would make sense of this.

Oh, yes, one more niggle... how are honeydew melons "the oval ones"? Watermelons are oval. The honeydews I've seen have all been pretty close to spherical.

Overall, I liked this, though. Sure, there were a few nitpicky things that bothered me, but I'd definitely read on. It raises a lot of interesting questions I'd want to learn the answers to, and paints a situation with some fun possibilities.

none said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone :). I'm hiding from *that* Santa, lol.

fairyhedgehog said...

I liked the opening three paragraphs but then I got confused about the tea-making. Is she trying to make tea without taking her eyes off the demon? Or what?

Anonymous said...

>>The demon glared up at her. "It's because I'm black, isn't it?"

Hahaha, just saw that. Nice work, Anon!

Anonymous said...

I'm hiding from *that* Santa, lol.

Uh, actually it's the Green Giant...

Black demon, Green giant, see...?

none said...

Green Giant? DOH