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19 February 2016 @ 11:34 am
LJ Idol Friends & Rivals: "Off The Chain"  
Off The Chain
idol friends and rivals | week 10 | 682 words
Pinocchio's first date


I ain't that boy, not like they said.

Pa calls me wooden-hearted sometimes, says I gotta learn. But I ain't some dead-eyed monster got loose after bein' locked up too long. I got a home, they told me I did. Always said it was.

Dark walls, one door. Just me most of the time. Never felt much like home, but they said I didn't know. Said I gotta listen.

That girl, though. Yeah. That girl was real pretty.

I saw her a couple times before. Riding to the doctor's with Pa, out the window. Hair as bright as anything, a pink dress once, a little skip in her walk.

Stop lookin' at me like you know, you don't know nothin'. I didn't think about her that way at first. Just noticed, is all.

I'd heard about "pretty" from books—yeah, I can read some, I ain't ignorant. Pa read me things too, and Ma used to, back when. Books tell about boys and girls and special feelings, and "pretty as a picture." Never made sense before I saw her.

I didn't know her before, and she didn't know me. Couldn't. How's she gonna? I never go outside almost, 'cept to the car. To see Doc. Don't know anybody, hardly. Seen her, though. Thought, Yeah.

Yeah, that's the one.

Guess maybe I thought it a lot.

Hold it in, Doc always said. Hold your temper, and the wanting. The strange. Lock it tight.

Ain't nothing strange here, I'd say, just me.

Doc never liked that. S'what I said, boy, he'd yell, now listen!

Got Doc yellin' and Pa yellin' and the dark room with one door. I got tired of that, thought Maybe.

Maybe I'd go out some, have a look around.

Pa brought breakfast late one morning, and it was mush. I hate mush. I waited 'til he was gone, stayed by the door. Heard him go out the front, waited some more. Ain't Pa's puppet—and Doc's neither. No sir, I ain't.

Used the spoon to pry up the door hinges so's I could get out.

The street was loud, and the sky hurt. I saw her, though, at the corner. Nice blue dress and yellow hair, and maybe she'd be mine. Like a story in a book.

I didn't have flowers, thought I'd show her some. She was pretty as a flower. More. But still, that was how they did, in those stories.

I asked did she want to come look, and she didn't say nothin'. Tried to run, I think, but I picked her up. I took her two houses away to a garden, put her down close to have a look. Real close.

Pa… he says I broke her.

Can't break a girl like a plate, I don't see how. Pa says, though, and the policemen too. And Doc says.

I tried to see was she okay, but she didn't move or talk. A van took her away.

I don't know what happened. I keep askin'. Doc gets mad and says Stop lyin', but not knowin' ain't lies! It ain't.

Don't think Doc believes me.

I was out for a while. Outside. Rooms with metal bars. Somewhere big, like when Ma took me to the movies. Didn't like it, though. Too much angry talkin', and a lot of waiting. Then back to the metal bars, the room like a cage.

I think her name was Daisy, that girl. The pretty one. Never got to ask, but I heard someone say.

I ain't that boy like they talked about, though. Ain't some kinda angry kid that ain't human all the way through. They's wrong about that. I told and told 'em.

They took me away from Pa. Moved me. The new room ain't as dark as the old one, but the rest is the same somehow. Like I already know it.

No windows and one door. Always just me most of the time. Like that.

And this new room they put me in? Well, yeah. That's the thing.

This new room here don't feel like any kinda home neither.

-- / --

I am part of a team this week, where votes for the team as a whole matter! Please vote for any entries you enjoy from my Weird Sisters team and any other teams. All stories are here...

rayasorayaso on February 19th, 2016 10:35 pm (UTC)
This was utterly fantastic! So creepy and imaginative! The voice was great, and it set everything up. You didn't let me read this before you submitted it, so I had no idea what you were doing. Now that I know you have this darkness inside you, as your husband, should I worry? It was truly brilliant, and I enjoyed it so much. I'm jealous.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 19th, 2016 11:07 pm (UTC)
I thought it would be better if it didn't get watered down by having seen a draft of it, so best to spring it on everyone at once!

It IS dark. Very dark. The prompt really wanted to go here, and it was the prompt I thought was the least workable. Shows what I know!

I'm glad you liked it, and hope other readers do too! And want to go run and hide afterward...
bleodsweanbleodswean on February 19th, 2016 11:29 pm (UTC)
Ooooooooooh! *cues weird string-y muzak* THIS was FANTASTIC, K! You've outdone yourself with your love of vernacular. Very creepy! Creeptastic, actually! Nice work and super response to the prompt!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 20th, 2016 12:32 am (UTC)
Thank you! I knew this would probably be a surprise to most people, and didn't want to give it away too early. And really hoped someone else wouldn't write this angle!

But darned if this voice didn't want to tell exactly this story. Wow.
her brain is crowded and tastes like sex!thistle_verse on February 20th, 2016 01:54 am (UTC)
Creepy! The voice of this piece is particularly strong, a very compelling, provocative voice inviting the reader into the tale that gets progressively darker and darker. Really well done!!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 20th, 2016 08:50 am (UTC)
The voice for a story often determines whether it's going to work with me. A really strong voice, like this one... I have no doubts. One that I can't quite get to solidify might mean the story doesn't get off the ground.

Glad you felt it worked so well!
cindy: misc fictsuki_no_bara on February 20th, 2016 04:04 am (UTC)
the voice in this is fantastic, but the story itself is so disturbing! which is also fantastic. :D i like that it's such a circular story, ending in the same kind of place where it started, and that it's so light on details. that's what makes it creepy.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 20th, 2016 08:52 am (UTC)
Oh, yes-- that prompt seemed so bizarre and limiting at first, but once it started to abstract a little, this voice presented itself and drove the whole thing through.

I'm glad you noticed the circular aspect of it. I think that is the type of life this character is doomed to, even if he never understands why. But for everyone else's safety, that's what it needs to be. :O
tonithegreat: cattonithegreat on February 20th, 2016 04:32 am (UTC)
This is awesome. So dark! So chilling! Such great internal dialog. And I'm left wondering, "Wait did Pinochio have a mom?"
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 20th, 2016 08:59 am (UTC)
Thank you!

This is more an abstraction than an actual Pinocchio, but I like to think this character either caused something terrible to happen to his mother or that who he was just... drove her away. :O

Thanks for reading and commenting!
Teo Sayseternal_ot on February 20th, 2016 07:52 am (UTC)
Whoa! This blew me away...Loved it. Great use of the prompt. I'll agree with the Voice..strong, precise and works for the story. Well- written. Good work!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 20th, 2016 09:05 am (UTC)
Thank you for your wonderful comment.

One of the things I like most about Idol is the stories unlike anything I would ever expect to write. I'll try anything that seems to successfully work well with the prompt, and I knew this one would be a surprise to almsot everyone... but so worth it.
alycewilson: Alice dark dooralycewilson on February 21st, 2016 12:50 am (UTC)
A very accomplished use of voice. I reread it to try to figure out what he did, but it seems as if whatever it was, he didn't even realize what he was doing while he was doing it. Scary.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 21st, 2016 12:57 am (UTC)
That's it exactly! It is one of the things that make him as dangerous as his father and the doctor think he is-- he is a monster and doesn't know it, and can't help being one.
happy is as happy does: teddy bear in chairhappywriter06 on February 21st, 2016 05:34 am (UTC)
I came onto LJ for one quick thing before bed (it's late here) and wound up checking my f-list. I'm glad I did. I found this. I really like it. I like the voice, so childlike and Southern. Then trying to add up the knowns and unknowns. It takes me to a particular place in my head, where I want to stay to figure out what happened.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 21st, 2016 07:33 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you stumbled across this-- and that it's making you ponder a little. I think the voice brings so much atmosphere that you have a sense of knowing more about this story than you might otherwise-- and given your comments, it's true. You understood the voice exactly.

Hope things are going well for you and yours!
Pika the Brazen Ninjaporn_this_way on February 21st, 2016 10:16 am (UTC)
DAMN, Pinocchio's the next UnSub on Criminal Minds, apparently! Nice one!! (Er. Nice story I mean. Not nice Pinocchio. Just nice and dark.)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 21st, 2016 09:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I don't do dark often, but that was definitely what this one wanted to be. Whoo!
Murielle: I'm Melting...murielle on February 22nd, 2016 01:39 am (UTC)
The voice is so strong and rich, and ultimately heartwreching.

Such a very powerful piece. Sad but so very memorable.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 22nd, 2016 07:30 am (UTC)
Thank you so much. I think hearing the boy's frustration and confusion, and the unhappy life he's living, is what makes this so sad. It was a tragedy waiting to happen for a very long time.
dmousey: pic#125576541dmousey on February 22nd, 2016 04:02 am (UTC)
This reads to me like an on the some spectrum/mentally ill child who is really neglected and abused and this is why he goes horribly off. It's tragic really. It's your writing this from the boy's POV that makes him something to be pitied, rather than despised.

I really like how you did that. Thanks for the fine writing! Peace~~~D

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 22nd, 2016 08:38 pm (UTC)
It IS tragic. The choices made for him have all been about protecting others, but since he doesn't really understand why he's dangerous (or a lot of things, really), that isn't a real solution. The poor girl who caught his eye paid the price, and he didn't even mean to hurt her.

Telling this from his POV does change how the reader feels about it, you're right. It doesn't change the horrible outcome, but the reader at least can see that there was no intent of harming anyone. But it could happen all over again, too, without a better solution.

Thanks for your thoughtful comments!

whipchickwhipchick on February 22nd, 2016 03:28 pm (UTC)
You are so good with voice - this was absolutely fascinating from the very first line. And such a great job making him sympathetic without pathos.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 22nd, 2016 08:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!

This was one of those times where it felt as if the voice drove me rather than the other way around. I wouldn't have written to this prompt at all, but for that clear sense of who this character was and what he wanted to say.
prog_schlockprog_schlock on February 22nd, 2016 04:11 pm (UTC)
I saw your mention in your reply to rayaso that you thought this was the least workable prompt. I did too - I had entry ideas for the other three mapped out in my head and suddenly my entry came to mind and it was a much more interesting take. So far, I'm noting many people gravitated to this one. Interesting!

Another outstanding entry. I like how this one was less a re-imagined fairy tale and more of a X-Files-ish fairy tale influenced nightmare. Nicely done.

It took me years to realize this song was about something sinister. Because I'm thick sometimes. But it seems like a good response:

Edited at 2016-02-22 04:11 pm (UTC)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 22nd, 2016 09:24 pm (UTC)
I'm surprised this prompt was so popular, though a lot of people used only the "first date" part of it, which broadens it. What was the last one? I can't even remember. It did nothing for me, and my husband was already writing about racing hedgehogs, so there was no residual fun to be had from that prompt!

I always thought "Possum Kingdom" was slightly sinister, though more about luring some girl off to have sex. The singer says it's some implied vampire thing. That video, though? Ulp. THAT's sinister. :O
(no subject) - prog_schlock on February 22nd, 2016 09:40 pm (UTC) (Expand)
swirlsofblueswirlsofblue on February 22nd, 2016 09:25 pm (UTC)
Love this, especially the build of it and the narrative voice, of the character knowing and not knowing, and not knowing how much of the confusion is truth and how much self-delusion, the build of it is so eerie and dark. Brilliantly done.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 1st, 2016 02:11 am (UTC)
and not knowing how much of the confusion is truth and how much self-delusion
The "unreliable narrator" is always interesting to me, since the reader can only view through the narrator's eyes (though often abstractly perceive the truth). Here, he truly doesn't understand why he's dangerous or what he really did, but at the same time... he proved everyone's worry about him to be correct.

So glad you liked this-- it was "out on a limb" for me, but definitely the story this prompt wanted to tell.
inteus_mika: Diabolicalinteus_mika on February 22nd, 2016 10:21 pm (UTC)
Intense. Poor, confused, sociopathic puppet.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 1st, 2016 02:12 am (UTC)
It's terrible to be dangerous and not really know why-- because how can you change that if you don't really understand what you're doing, and/or don't have the impulse control to stop it?