Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Entry #158

The Missing Piece
by Carrie Clevenger


They said that the first infection was a fluke, that the avian flu couldn't be spread to humans. We believed them. We wore our masks and treated each doorknob as if it were radioactive glowing until the newscast came across the tube and relieved our fears. The war is over, they said. The economy's gone north, they said. And there is an epidemic of avian flu―in Japan.

Japan is far from here, full of imagination: pagodas and kimonos, koto players with painted faces, and Mahjong.

A special piece, painted with the Northern Wind, gusted to an antiquities market in Eastern New York City, on a stand sold by a man considered weird by some, eclectic by others, and still otherwise known as the Devil by those of holy mind and spirit, out for everyone to touch and admire.

A little man stops to admire the piece―it's been missing from his set for so very long. If he brings this home, he says to himself, his life will certainly change.


(Carrie Clevenger, (also known as Carrie Cleaver) worships Maynard and dreams of cephalopods on trains and other oddities in Austin, Texas. She doesn’t have to write the next great novel, but it’d be nice to at least leave a bloody print on her way down. The hub of her evil network can be found at http://shadowsinstone.blogspot.com/ or on Twitter as @shadowsinstone.)

27 comments:

Crafty Green Poet said...

I like this very much, particularly the sense of unease created around the 'special piece'.

lena said...

I am afraid I am missing out something here. Maybe some little bit more background would help. Or is it just me?

peggy said...

creepy as usual, Carrie.

Laurel said...

I like the sense of forboding and the references to how little geography protects us from far away plagues.

This is interesting.

Michael Solender said...

ooh I like this one much! very clever. great closer.

Marisa Birns said...

Ooh. So the special little Mahjong piece foreshadows, eh.

The little man's life definitely will change.

Very well done.

Bernita said...

Clever piece...

kashers said...

Probably my own ignorance, but I don't get the connection between the and second halves of this piece. Both are written well, but try as I might I can't link them.

Weezel said...

Great story, as usual. Loved the symbolism!

Anonymous said...

I like the interpretation, how the avian flu can travel by other means, instead of by bird. --JR

Carrie said...

Kashers/Lena: The North Wind is a Mahjong piece. You almost have to be somewhat familiar with the game. Sorry to disappoint or confuse you.

Carrie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Frog Queen said...

I love it...I got the majong reference...with all the eastern references, placed in NYC, and what it can/does (?) carry. I really enjoyed it.

Cheers!

Steph R. said...

Dark in a good way.

laughingwolf said...

sweet!

pjd said...

The second half reminds me a little bit of the opening to Gremlins, when the dad buys the little mogwai creature. HIS life certainly changed.

Scott King said...

The writing and tone are well done. To me though, what I enjoyed the most was the subtlety of the piece. It doesn't waist time beating the point over the head of the readers.

catvibe said...

I was very confused when I first read this piece. I had to read it a few times to start to make the connections. I have to wonder if the Northern Wind Mahjong piece doesn't gust with it some of that Avian flu. His life will surely change if it does.

Tony Noland said...

... and death comes in on a game board.

Nicely done.

Craig said...

Very Clever. It works on so many levels.

Carrie said...

Someone usually dies...why not 1/8 of the population. Seriously though? It could happen. This is what happens when I look at birds through blurry trees.

Since a few people are confused, yes the game piece brings the disease. It's also a statement of how if our problems are so far away, that they can easily infiltrate our defenses.

Deb Smythe said...

Loved the ending. Subtly done.

Christian Bell said...

Clever and creepy piece--well done! I didn't really have to know anything about Mahjong to understand what was happening. Through context, I understood what I needed to know.

Preeti said...

wow...

i love mahjong. for entirely different reasons.

and this is yet another example of a new perspective. i liked how it progressed. Nice.

Aerin said...



my caveat

Something I Would Keep

Japan as a land of imagination and everything thereafter...LOVE. Love, love. Such nice details, almost playful (dare I say "windy") in the movement to New York. Very nice.

Something I Might Tweak

I think the disconnect people are having is that the first paragraph, which is so clear, and the next three which are subtly revealing and evocative. Almost as though there are two points of view.

Chris Eldin said...

I was also a bit confused, but enjoyed the sense of forboding you created nonetheless.

Jim_Wisneski said...

Carrie,

AWESOME! I like the idea of how a small game piece can cause so much impact. . . we imagine massive bombs blowing up or guns, etc. but just think of how small a virus or disease is. . . and how capable it is. . .

NICE.

Jim