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27 May 2013 @ 02:13 pm
LJ Idol Exhibit B: "Disquietude"  
LJ Idol Exhibit B | week two | 500 words


"You'd be breaking your lease," Travis said. "The fine for that is huge. It'll cost you."

"I don’t care!" Ben Harkness was almost nearly stuttering. "I'm not staying in that apartment another day!"

Travis sighed and pulled Ben's rental agreement out of the file cabinet. He'd have to clean the apartment and put an ad in the newspaper, then do the background checks and interviews for prospective tenants. He'd been through this for 1436 just two months ago, and it wore him out.

They might as well just close the whole top floor. Nobody stayed in those apartments for long.

It was cold again. Nights were the worst—the chill grew stronger with each passing hour until it went right to the bone. But it was four o'clock in the afternoon now, and even the storm clouds outside couldn't account for the bitter sting in the air.

Sometimes, Nina thought she heard screaming. She'd run up and down the hallways and even check out the window, but no one else seemed to notice anything wrong. The sobs and moans coming through the walls were almost as bad.

Fifteen months later, Nina left apartment 1438. She'd already lasted longer than most.

Changing elevator buttons and apartment numbers to turn the thirteenth floor into the fourteenth was just plain stupid. Calling it something else didn't change what it was.

Ernie renumbered the doors (the ghosts of the threes loomed behind the fours, obvious as hell). Apartment 1337 was responsible for the whole project, but the new address didn't 'take'. The door rattled like a living thing under Ernie's hammer, and the 'four' fell off again and again.

Empty for decades, the apartment still gave Ernie the willies. When the door bucked against his steadying hand, Ernie bolted, leaving all his tools behind.

A knife, he has a knife, whyever did I let him bring me here?

Mother always said a girl oughtn't talk to strangers, no matter how respectable they might seem. Oh, how could I have thought this terrible man and his fancy car were anything but trouble?

My mouth is stopped up with a handkerchief and I'm tied to a chair, but I try my hardest to scream. I hear noises next door—if I could only draw someone's attention, they might help me. Oh hurry, please hurry—he has a knife! Whyever did I let him bring me here?

She was naught but a whore, and I gave her the fate such creatures deserve. The night was nearly too black to see, but my blade found its mark. Her wretched body tempts no man now.

Still, her release from punishment was far too quick. My own building (with its dark rear entrance and no other top-floor tenants) might allow me to administer a more leisurely justice.

These new flapper girls, with their painted faces, are loose as any strumpet on the street. They shall learn the price of lost virtue in a few sorry hours under my merciless hands.

If you enjoyed this story, you can vote for it along with many other fine entries here.

Desireex_disturbed_x on May 27th, 2013 10:18 pm (UTC)
Oh wow. I really like the drabbles and I think my favorite two were the last ones even if they were rather scary!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 27th, 2013 11:17 pm (UTC)
The last two were the most fun to write (that sounds awful, doesn't it?), though I did enjoy poor Ernie and his thankless task of remaking the haunted floor.
medleymistymedleymisty on May 27th, 2013 10:54 pm (UTC)
Oh wow, this was really cool and interesting, and I liked the little flashes and bits of the story and the different voices.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 27th, 2013 11:18 pm (UTC)
I really liked drabbles (100-word stories), and I've written a ton of them... but never for Idol. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to reveal a story through several different short POVs, going back to the horrible beginning.
(no subject) - medleymisty on May 27th, 2013 11:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 28th, 2013 12:46 am (UTC) (Expand)
cindytsuki_no_bara on May 28th, 2013 02:24 am (UTC)
yay, drabbles! :D i love that you ran the timeline backwards. i think the third one's my favorite.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 28th, 2013 05:30 am (UTC)
It seemed overdue, and this story seemed like it would be more interesting told in snapshots than directly. And telling it backwards definitely so!

Ernie has such personality, and I love that the door that defeated him proved his whole point anyway about how stupid that project was. :)
Kellykajel on May 28th, 2013 02:32 am (UTC)
Intense. If I was Ernie, I would quit the job completely.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 28th, 2013 05:48 am (UTC)
Me too-- once you've seen something so scary become more than just a rumor, would you really want to risk being sent back to deal with it? o_O
lriG rorriMlrig_rorrim on May 28th, 2013 09:48 pm (UTC)
I loved this - the overall structure of the piece and progression of the drabbles, the fact that they're these tight and constrained little scenes bursting with so much atmosphere and personality, the fact that we move back and see some of the origins of the creepy stuff... perfect. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 29th, 2013 01:04 am (UTC)
Drabbles are such a neat art form, though you can spend just as much effort getting them to be concise and exactly 100 words long! But I love the challenge of them, and especially as used for different POVs here-- each person seeing only their moment of the story, and only the reader seeing it all. :D
(no subject) - lrig_rorrim on May 29th, 2013 09:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Laura, aka "Ro Arwen": Christmas Past - Muppetroina_arwen on May 29th, 2013 01:58 am (UTC)
I liked these drabbles very much, and the way they all tied together.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 29th, 2013 02:50 am (UTC)
Thank you! I write so many of these, but never for Idol before. :)
Good old captain crazy-pants: rainbow legsdreamsreflected on May 29th, 2013 03:24 am (UTC)
Oh wow, this was a great.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 29th, 2013 04:00 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it!
Vice Captain of the Universe: I like teasweeny_todd on May 29th, 2013 03:29 am (UTC)
I don't know if 'enjoyed' is the right word... it certainly gave me the creeps! well written, for sure.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 29th, 2013 04:02 am (UTC)
:D I run into that problem with horror in general. I guess the question is more, "Was it a good read?" rather than, "So, fun, huh?"

It should give you the creeps, though, so it sounds as if it did its job!
MamaCheshirecheshire23 on May 29th, 2013 04:25 am (UTC)
Wow. Did not see that coming. At all. *shivers*
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 29th, 2013 04:42 am (UTC)
That's the nice twist to telling the story backwards. There are hints along the way, but it's not until hit the actual cause that you really know.

If ever an apartment deserved to be haunted, it was that one.
Your Facekandigurl on May 29th, 2013 04:51 am (UTC)
Woooooooooooow. I certainly wasn't expecting anything like this to come out of the "1337" topic. Amazing!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 29th, 2013 05:00 am (UTC)
Yay-- I'm glad it was unexpected! All the prompts were tough, but I at least felt like I could DO something with this one. :)
Jemima Paulerjem0000000 on May 29th, 2013 07:27 am (UTC)
I like how you've lined them up in reverse progression, so that we see the problem first and then slowly find out what came before to cause it.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 29th, 2013 05:49 pm (UTC)
I think the story would have been much less interesting in chronological order, and I was hoping that the reverse would add some intrigue. The apartment seems troubled, but is it? How bad could it really be?

As it happens... VERY bad. :O
whipchickwhipchick on May 29th, 2013 07:00 pm (UTC)
You know what was first awesome about this? The way the voice subtly shifted eras until I was back in time before I even realized it. You know what was second awesome? I genuinely felt a real, honest-to-god, made me shiver, *chill* at the last line.

One piece of concrit - is there a way to show Claire's physical plight (chair, hankie) instead of telling it outright?

Congratulations, I think this is the best supernatural story I've read in years - it's sharp and tight and spare and so very, very well-crafted.

(ssshhhhhhh...this is the kind of story where I go back and change my votes list because suddenly "good enough" isn't any more...)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 29th, 2013 07:10 pm (UTC)
I'm glad that the "era" of the voices was clear enough to realize that the story was moving backwards-- sometimes quite far back! I had to think about the language quite a bit for that (it's almost borderline research). And even better that you got the spookies from it!

I could not, in the time allotted, find a better way to show just exactly how hopeless poor Claire's plight was. I mainly wanted readers to sense that there HAD been actual screaming at one time (but not enough for her to be rescued), and that her plight was so awful that her narrative could as easily be the stuck "loop" of her ghost as the actual real-time telling of her fate. Maybe too much of a challenge for her 100-word segment?

I'm glad you liked this so much! I always worry that people will overlook drabbles, which is why I haven't done them for Idol before. But if there were ever a concept to be conveyed via drabbles, this was it!
tatdatcmtatdatcm on May 29th, 2013 07:30 pm (UTC)
I liked how you used the first few drabbles to build up to the horror of the last two.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 29th, 2013 10:50 pm (UTC)
I'm glad the hints worked toward the payoff!
michikatinski on May 29th, 2013 09:40 pm (UTC)
Outstanding use of this prompt. Looooved it. :-D Give me a good superstition turned horror any day!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 29th, 2013 10:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Wish it were doing better in the polls-- I hope this wasn't too risky.

You're right, there are always tons of superstitions about various ideas and places. So much creepier when they turn out to be justified!
rhondapalooza_rabidwombat_ on May 30th, 2013 12:06 am (UTC)
Fabulous and creative!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 30th, 2013 01:21 am (UTC)
Thank you very much!