Friday, October 19, 2007

The Stairs, Part 3 (suspense/horror)

(A story in honor of Halloween. As the days of October shorten, a young man descends with the sunset shadows down seven cellar stairs. If you're just joining us, you can go back to Part 1.)

On the Third Stair

Six o'clock sun beamed on Paulie's back. After yesterday's rains, crystal blue sky bore down on the day with reading glass heat.

His feet swam in the shadow on the third stair.

Below, he could see into the darkness farther. Papers and boxes and flower pot littered the floor. Something was closer now. It dissolved in the cool cavern of air.

Sometimes I can taste it I think not like the corners warehouse where it's good but empty and of course the clocks ticks really loud and the second hand shakes like it's having a seizure but it's better than school and those fucking hard seats making my back ache but at least it's quieter in the bathroom no one cleans and the bowls in the stalls stink with pieces of moldy cardboard kicked to the corners I hate going in that sewage but no one usually goes back there and I can pull on my hair with the greasy streaks sticking for the never hot water and I can sneak a joint and pick my ass until I can clean the mouse traps because nobody else wants to and all the little droppings sprinkle like those black things you put on cakes and could put on cakes if anyone would know the difference.

Paulie coughed. The muted sound slap-back echoed.

I don't mind changing the bait even with the dropping because I think about the mice nibbling itty bitty nibbling they must love those poison blocks if only I could see their stomachs burst or their brains twist spit blood but I can only clear the boxes back to the corner where the smell is strong and I find whole piles of them hair falling and mixing and dried curled toes without eyes and I take my time bending down and brushing them into the dust pan so I can bring it up close to my face where no one can see my face unless someone is looking for me and hurry away hiding my pants when I walk it hurts because it's so hard but the bathroom smells like bleach white hot bleach and the bowls stink in the stalls and it's gone again even if I take the dust pan with me and it's no use I just flush and change the bait and wait.

The hickory shadow flowed down to the fourth stair like molasses.

Before he pulled away and climbed up to the ground, he leaned forward and breathed.

It wasn’t raw like the smells in the warehouse where he worked crappy hours. Mostly, it was mildew and age. Underneath, though, he caught a scent.

Clutching and pounding and fire tearing with his aching teeth.

The sweet ghost of decay.

On to Part 4.
Back to Part 2.


Ello said...

This is good. I really am getting a good sense for Paulie. He's got a voice here and it is very creepy. I have only one problem. When he says pull on my hair with the greasy streaks sticking for the never... I just think it is odd that he would describe his own hair as greasy. And then the "for the never" is odd, and odd even for how he talks.

But am very intrigued and fascinated.

SzélsőFa said...

I think this piece does bring IT closer to us. IT is more palpable here.
Re: greasy hair...I wonder if that was said to him by someone in a reprimand or is it him who knows that he is unkept, but does not care about it...?
I don't think this question of mine should be answered right now. I trust the answer will be given, later on, in further parts of the series.

You know, when I clicked to see your site today Jason, and saw the stairs, I shuddered... I said aloud: oh, not, another step I had to take.
Hee hee.

Church Lady said...

Me too, Szelsofa! I saw the picture and started having heart palpitations :-)

Love the "ghost of decay" line. That's nice.

Do you have this whole thing written, or are you making it up as you go along?

ybonesy said...

Paulie has some problems, doesn't he?

Anonymous said...

Ello, feedback is the best! I'm always on alert when something pulls a reader from the story. My thinking was similar to Szelsofa's. He's been criticized about his appearance, so it has become part of his self-identity. That said, I still don't want readers to be pulled from the story.

Szelsofa, you are correct. He has gotten a lot of grief over his appearance and his hair. His thought is almost snide. I would still probably make small adjustments on revision, however. I don't like anything to break the reader's journey into the story. **I like that the picture gave you an "oh oh" feeling! :) The real place is very creepy.

Church Lady, glad it's evoking a few palpatations for the Halloween season! As for your question, I write serial stories piece by piece and let them evolve however they want. Since this one has such a fixed structure, I needed to roughly outline it in advance, but very roughly.

Ybonesy, perhaps, my friend, perhaps. ;)

The Electric Orchid Hunter said...

I know you. You are the bastard love child of Stephen King and Janet Fitch, aren't you? This is taking an inexorable plunge into the realm inhabited by my favourite thrillers - that psychosexual mixture of fearful fascination, sensual thoughts of sex and death.

anne said...

Oooh, nice ending lines...
Made me wonder whether Paulie may have something to do with whatever's decaying down there.

mermaid said...

With each descent this gets creepier, and with each deeper thought of Polly's, it gets dirtier.

The Anti-Wife said...

Paulie needs some prozac!

angel said...

that paulie is one straaaaaannge little duck...
can't wait for the rest!

onipar said...

wow, really cool ides. Great stuff too.

Vesper said...

Very good, Jason. We're descending every step with Paulie... Hmmm, it was easier when I read Westinghoused all at once. :-)

Anonymous said...

Electric Orchid, yeah, I think you nailed this one. Thanks for the compliment!

Anne, ahh yes. Something may be amiss down there. ;)

Mermaid, the character's thoughts mirror the progression of his past actions. Hopefully, that development will come through.

Anti-Wife, couldn't he do something constructive like stay home and play video games? ;)

Angel, I hope I didn't know this guy.

Onipar, thanks! It's fun to try to push the envelope regarding structure and approach.

Vesper, you can wait until I'm finished, then go back if you'd like. ;)

Verilion said...

I like the serials you do. The suspense of going down step by step (and now that you've drawn my attention to the photo as well). I want to know what's down there. And who is Paulie? Do we really want to know? Eeek.