Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Below (Original fiction)

Recently a dear friend told me about Tastes of the Darkness, which is described as a blog carnival of horror flash fiction. After reading the guidelines I truly found it appealing, but found one obstacle along the way. Flash fiction. Not something I'm much used to; I actually tend to write stories which are a bit longer. I did give it a shot though, and managed to produce this little oddity. The theme for this first running of the carnival was "isolation". I hope you enjoy it.


The sounds wake him. A shout, a cry, a chuckle. He opens his eyes at first, not sure what’s going on, then sits up with a start. A familiar cold wave creeps up his back. He shudders.

They are down there, again.

More of them.

He clutches the blanket close to his chin and draws his legs toward his chest.

This is my space, the place where I go, and here I’m safe, from the things down below.

They had left him alone for a while. He had been happy, thinking they were gone for good. But they are back now. They always come back. They are loud, never idle. They drag stuff around, they shout, they laugh.

They pound.

The thuds frighten him; they are so loud. And when the thuds start, he knows what comes next.

Sooner or later they’ll want to come up.

This is my space, the place where I go, and here I’m safe, from the things down below.

Sooner or later they will come for him.

A sob escapes him. He wants to be brave, but his chest heaves up and down. He is shaking on his bed, his body rocking back and forth.

In the dark he looks for his shield. He finds it on the floor, just beside his shoes. It should be on the nightstand, must have fallen in the dark, somehow.

In the gloom of his room, he stares at the floorboards. He can feel them moving under the floor. Creeping, scuttling, running around. They are never still.

He clutches his shield to his chest and bites down on the worn head of the brown teddy. Not wanting to, but unable to stop himself, he gets out of the bed. His body cringes as his feet touch the floor. He stands up and stops.

He listens.

They laugh. They call each other. They keep moving.

He takes a step forward, and another, and one more. He can feel the vibrations under his feet.

This is my space, the place where I go…

They had come up twice before. The first time he was asleep, and their screams awoke him. They tried to take him with them. They dragged him. He had yelled for help, which never arrived while their fingers gripped his ankles, his waist, his neck.

Another step. He kneels down, the clutch on his stuffed shield never loosening.

This is my space, the place where I go…

He had fought them bravely that night, hanging on the bed’s leg for dear life, flinging shoes and toys at them. He kicked, he bit. And in the end, he won. He had found strength within, and he had been safe.

Slowly, almost holding his breath, he bends down until his ear touches the floorboards. It’s them, all right. They are laughing. Running. He can feel them closer now.

The second time they had come up, he had been ready for them. They wouldn’t get him. They wouldn’t take him from his room. This was his place.
This is my space, the place where I go, and here I’m safe, from the things down below.

He had his sword by then, and he had defeated them. It had been messy but they didn’t take him. He had cried so hard, but he had stood his ground. He was not going with them. No way he was.

A dry sound makes him flinch, and he jumps up from the floorboards. He wants to get back in bed, to cry for help. But help won’t come. He is always alone. It’s up to him to stand his ground.

There had also been a third time… but he had beaten them then. He had found a way of falling on them before they pounced on him. And how much easier it had been, taking them all by surprise. They had screeched and had lunged at him, but he had the upper hand.

Despite the dread inside him.

Despite the horror within.

He’d found a way of beating them down there. Below. Before they could even come up to get him.

A teardrop falls down his face. He sobs.

But it has to be done.

Before they get to him first.

He is ready.

Another thud. They are near.

He reaches under the bed and grabs his sword. His face, wet with tears, reflecting off the blade’s surface.

He hates looking at himself like this. His skin wrinkled, his nose plugged. The tears making a mess of his face, shimmering as they get caught on his beard.

He can hear them below. Never still. They always call at each other, they drag boxes, they bump into things. By now the people from the big truck, the ones who brought all the stuff should have left. Now it’s only the new ones down there. The ones who will come looking for him, sooner or later.

He needs to be brave. He needs to fight them.

Just like he did five years ago.

Just like he did ten years ago.

And just like he did thirteen years ago.

Waiting for the right moment, he clutches the knife close. And sobs.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Mission: Impossible 3

It's here! The 2006 blockbuster season starts off with Tom Cruise and the mega-buck new sequel to the big screen version of the TV classic.

We start off with a loving couple who is ready to marry. The only problem is he is keeping something from her. You see, the man is none other than Ethan Hunt, who although still linked to the world of spionage is now working as a trainer of new recruits. However, days before the wedding Hunt is drafted for a flash mission when his brightest disciple Lindsey (Keri Russell) is captured while she was keeping tabs on the elusive Owen Davian (Phillip Seymour Hoffman). Hunt then makes a new team which includes old acquaintance Luther (Ving Rhames), and newcomers Zhen (Maggie Q) and Declan (Jonathan Ryhs Meyers). The rescue mission is a bust but the team manages to get some intel that might lead them to the capture of Davian. A new mission is then carried out under the radar so that the severe head of IMF, Brassel (Lawrence Fishburne) is kept out of the loop. What follows is a story of betrayal, conspiracy and LOTS of incredible action sequences. But no matter what, Hunt knows he can count on his team.

Director J.J. Abrams does an excellent job with this new sequel, the first one that really feels like a version of the TV Series. The clue here is the team. The series was all about how the team handled these missions together. One of the biggest flaws that part 1 had was the annihilation of this team and later on the discovery that the hero had become the villain. Part 2 had virtually no team and was more centered in idolizing Tom Cruise who could rock-climb with his fingernais; this sequel was plagued with doves and acrobatics which looked great in director John Woo's previous movie Face/Off but which in MI2 were neverending and boring. In MI3 the team is always present, though a little more individualization of it's members would have been nice. This isn't a huge problem though.

Abrams, creator of a few little TV shows you might have heard of called Felicity, Alias and Lost, brings all of his Alias experience into the game and sort of merges it with Mission:Impossible (you can see traces of Alias, like the tech specialist that feels very similar to Marshall Finkman, or the way the movie is told, starting at a very critical point in the story and then telling everything as a flashback). The result is a fast-paced, interesting product which doesn't fall in the game of centering every little thing around Tom Cruise. Having a great actor like Hoffman as the ruthless villain is a great contribution to this.

My only dislike of MI3 is the terrible epilogue, which in the desire of having a happy ending sets a situation which feels forced and very sappy. But don't let this discourage you. This is an edge-of-your-seat action flick, a great way to start the summer.