There’s something going on in the blogosphere. Can you feel it? Fiction is flying hither and yon today thanks to the Blog Short Story Project. The brainchild of Bryon Quertermous and David White, this project is now in its 3rd year.
J.T., Mike, and Paul have short stories on blogs today (just click on their names) and I’ll try to post other links at the end of my story.
The rules for the short story this year are:
1. no more than 1000 words
2. topic must have something to do with blogs or blogging.
I’ve decided to give it a go, though I haven’t completed a short story since high school. I’ll admit I’m feeling a bit like my posterior is hanging out of a car window on this one, but it’s good to stretch as a writer — even if there’s a breeze.
Here’s my tip of the hat to readers who love cat stories and to those who don’t.
The Cat’s Meow
The one constant pleasure in her drudge of a life consisted of ScreamIt.com. There, she let everything fly: the rape, the anger at men, the affronts, her sucky job. It didn’t matter if anyone commented. She just needed to get it out, to use the real names of the countless people who’d hurt her, to shame them.
Cinnamon-laced soy milk steamed in the cup by her elbow. Her fingers snicked the keyboard, refining her post. If Rick ever read it, he’d die. Good. He deserved it.
Pico, the neighbor’s cat, thumped through the pet door. He jumped on the table, purring and nuzzling her angular face. She felt a connection with this scuffy animal, a kind of love. Pushing back her chair, she went to the mini-fridge, opened a bag of grated cheddar — kept especially for him — and put a handful on a plastic plate. Pico curled around her ankle, a thank-you before eating.
"Are you my knight in shining armor?" She babytalked to him and then mumbled, "What a crock."
Back to work. A strand of hair cut across her forehead in a black slash while she typed: I used to think still waters ran deep. That is, until I met Rick. His waters run still because there’s nothing there.
Yeah, that’d be a good hook.
Some men are blowhards. Some are puffer fish. Rick is krill.
She laughed at the weak joke and clicked on "Publish now."
Tonight she’d get rid of him. Sayonara. Thank goodness they hadn’t complicated things with sex. After one spitty kiss, she’d said, "Let’s take it slow. Get to know each other."
He’d bought it. She’d kept him out of her pants.
She stretched, her thin arms reaching toward the ceiling and then slowly coming down in an arc to the table. The computer’s two-tone signal brought her attention back to the screen.
One comment already. I’ve dated toads, but your’s sounds like pond scum.
She didn’t want to respond too fast, sound too desperate. But, why not? This could be fun. He’s worse than that. Pond scum feeds bottom feeders. Rick is like snot . . . no value at all.
At a library in another part of town, Rick sat at his laptop, a hand squeezing painful zits on his chin. Damn her. It’d been funny when she’d done it to other people. But this? Now? He sure wasn’t laughing.
A few hours later at dinner, he said, "So, what have you been up to?"
"Not much." They’d both ordered tofu rice bowls, doused them with tamari. She unwrapped the chopsticks and selected a chunk of broccoli.
"How was work?" He watched her ungenerous mouth.
Liar! She hadn’t gone to work; he’d checked. She thought she was so smart. Lies — the online wit, her fake identity. He’d tracked down the truth in minutes. Now, he released another snare. "What do you want to do later?"
"There’s no later, Rick." Oh, she loathed him, hated the piece of onion clinging to his lower lip. "We’re done."
"What are you talking about?" The practiced confusion on his face had taken most of today’s lunch break to perfect.
"After dinner, you’re going to drive me home and . . . then . . . we’re through. Finito. Kaput." She stabbed the tofu, feeling powerful, in control. "Or, I can call a cab right now."
No! That won’t work. "Please, Claire, don’t run off. I’ll drive you home. It’s no problem." He shook his head, hoping to convey sadness. He wanted sympathy — if she was capable of it — not disgust. "I just need to wrap my head around this . . . I had no idea."
"I need to go to the bathroom," she said.
He’d counted on it. The packet of white powder opened easily, its contents dissolving into her green tea.
Twenty minutes later, she said, "I don’t feel very good."
"Let’s go." He helped her out of the restaurant. She stumbled near the car. Leaning her against the vehicle, he unlocked it, folded her into the seat and buckled the belt. "Snot, huh?" he said. "We’ll see who’s snot."
Soft, regular breathing accompanied him into her driveway. Drapes and curtains in the neighborhood hid the good families, eating around happy kitchen tables, unaware of his plans. After finding the key, he slung her over his shoulder and quickly went into the basement apartment.
So this was where she lived. One room. How pathetic.
He bent over the dirty futon on the floor and undressed her quietly. Sneering at her tiny breasts, he stepped back to gloat. His foot hit a plastic plate. A strip of orange sprang to the top of his tennis shoe. He knelt to sniff it. "God, you’re such a fake. All this vegan crap and you sneak cheese at home."
His throat felt scratchy. Probably the dust. He rubbed his eyes and congratulated himself on what he was about to do. Water. He needed a drink. With a cup, he sat in her chair and considered the computer. Tomorrow, she’d be horrified. His throat tightened with excitement. He’d pose her for maximum embarrassment, upload the pictures to as many porn sites as he could. She’d be dealing with it for years.
God, he itched all over. What the hell? He was breaking out in hives! A cat? She’d never said anything about a cat.
His throat continued to close. He’d left his EpiPen in his windbreaker. In the car. Running up the stairs and out the door, he made it to the driveway before falling to the ground, eyes bulging, fingers digging into the gravel until they were bloody.
In the morning, her neighbor screamed.
She peeked out the window. Rick’s dead eyes stared back. Pico stepped over him on the way to greet her.
Here are the links I have so far (don’t forget the ones in the intro paragraph of this blog)
Stephen D Rogers
David J. Montgomery
You can die that way??? I had no idea. Cats just jumped up a notch or two on the Meter-O-Evil. (I don’t hate cats; don’t send letters).
Thanks for the story Pari. Pretty damn good from someone who claims she hasn’t written a short since high school.
I will never again make fun of a cat story. Meow, indeed.
I love it, Pari! I guess anyone who lives with a cat understands that this was completely premeditated – and the perfect crime.
Really enjoyed this one. Check out mine at http://pattinase.blogspot.com/
This is such a blast!
After I take the kids to school this morning, I’m going to have plenty of fun procrastinating and reading all of the other stories wafting through the ether.
What a kick!
I need those links from Bryon!
Pari, NICE job! This is wonderful. Your darker voice is very strong, and the story really flows.
If only the cat could have died, too, it would have been a perfect story.
Wonderful story, Pari. And perfect for POV discussion we’ve been having. You’ve changed POVs in a very brief space; it’s seamless and also vital to the twist as well as the theme of blogging. I really enjoyed it.
The kitty theme is strong in our stories, Pari.
Gerald,I’m glad I broadened your perspective.
David,Cats have their purpose.
Alex,Of course, you’re right.
J.T.,You have no idea how very dark I can get. heh heh heh . . .
Mike,I still have one more pipsqueak to get to school, then it’s a reading extravaganza. I can’t wait to read a master.
And, yes, this is the first short story I’ve COMPLETED since high school.
Great point, Naomi. The story switches POV clearly and effortlessly. No fuss, no muss.
Great story, Pari. I completely agree about the POV.
Well done, you! There’s a whole new dark side to you that I’ve never seen before, Pari.
I’m off to read the others.
Re: the POV
I figured this would be a good way to practice 3rd person for the new series. I wanted to see how to switch perspective without jarring the reader. Maybe this, and reading the other stories, will give me more of a sense of confidence in this unfamiliar territory.
And, yes, I can write dark. The new series will be much darker than Sasha’s series. That’s why I look forward to writing both.
It’s all about balance.
I’m off to read the others too.
Bryon, where are those links?????
Wow – love it!
And the four felines waltzing about here in my house applaud you as well. 🙂
The links are on Bryon’s site.
Love the story, Pari!
Billie — cat lovers, unite!Paul — I’ll grab those links.B.G. — glad you liked it.
If anyone in the project comes from blogger — I’ve been having a hard time commenting on your stories — but I’ve read every one and LOVE them.
Wow. Such talent. Such fun.
I knew them damn critters’s evil. Thumbs up.
That kitten had claws!
Sorry, I’m under a formal obligation to make appalling puns. Fun stuff, Pari.
Wow. Great job. I agree with all that was previously said about POV — flawlessly turned. Dread pervaded the whole piece.
John,Loved your story — but didn’t leave a comment.
I find that if I have to do too much to sign in to leave something, I get too damn lazy.
Now that’s what I call a cat story! And you haven’t written a short since high school? Wow.
Feline fury scores again! Terrific, Pari! Now I’ve got to read the others…
Do you get the feeling that David is not a cat lover? 🙂
Bill,I’ve started dozens of stories since high school . . . just never had the guts to finish any of them until this project.
Who’d of thunk it? Cat noir! Great job!
You know what, Karen?
I think that’s what I write: Cat Noir.
That, or what one fan has described as, “Gonzo Cozy.”
Pari,I guess Murderati is by and for writers, as all the comments are writerly, pv, etc.Reader-wise, it’s a delightful cozy. You’ve given us a “heroine” that we’ve got to feel sorry for, raped, sucky job, etc. Then a shallow boyfriend who she decides to breakup with — good for her. The only positives you give her are using a website to vent, and a scruffy cat that she loves.The powder in the tea – date rape is what springs to mind. Maybe that was the villain’s plan — we only know about the plan to post porno pics.Ah, but fate intervenes. The villain has an allergy – some thing has finally worked out right for this unfortunate girl.And the moral is, any living being, even a scruffy cat, is more dependabke than a blog.
Lorraine,I think what happened today is that many of us who wrote the stories visited each other. There are many people who commented today whom I’ve never met.
It’s funny, I don’t think of the story as “cozy” at all — it’s not even a mystery — because it doesn’t have the amateur sleuth solving the crime kind of motif.
I did, very much, like Pico’s role — and the fact that he’s not a cute kitty.
Well, after reading Pari’s short – I ran over to read Guyot, McLean and Ellison – and I’d already read David’s – but I must say how proud I am to be a blogmate of such fine writers – It goes without saying how gifted they are – but I had no idea they were such terrific short story writers – which to me – is harder than writing a full book.
So very well done all!
Yes, yes, I echo Elaine’s sentiments. I didn’t have time to post on everyone’s blog, but I’ve especially enjoyed this round of stories. And just having people be creative instead of writing about being creative was very refreshing. More! More!
You know what? I think this was an incredible community building experience. I loved reading all of the stories and being able to contribute.
I hope that the news spreads over the next few days and that more readers — from other parts of the blogoshere/internet — visit these creative sites.
I hope everyone who stopped here this year will participate next year.
Hey, if I can do it after 30 years of not having finished a story, anyone can.
Pari, If you check again, I agree, no, not a mystery. I should not have been lazy and said it has the attributes of a cozy – no graphic violence, no blatant sex, ordinary characters as opposed to pschopaths, serial killers, spys, etc. and a good ending.
Yours is the only story I read. Am not acquainted with the work of any of the others except I love Crider, but couldn’t access his story.Lorraine
Damned evil cats!! Cool story, Pari.
Very good story.
Thanks, Steve and John.
I enjoyed both of yours immensely.
What a great project. Hats off to Bryon.
A seamless head-hop there, Pari. Very nicely done.
Who wants to get together an offer for ScreamIt.com? 🙂
very interesting, but I don’t agree with youIdetrorce
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I understand about the epi-pen because I trained to become an Emergency Medical Technician. Great idea to have the cat hair be the hero! I have eight cats, and all of them are special. I completed the story that Stephen King suggested in his book titled: "Memoir of the Craft." I bump off my husband with digitalis in the wine! (Pity that he is so predictable! He has a glass of wine each night, and he only uses the two open bottles!). In case you are wondering, I have been happily married to the first husband for 19 years. I enjoyed meeting you this Thursday. You were the guest author for my Legacy of Writing class with Dr. Celia Lopez-Chavez. I informed my husband, Pat, that my first best-seller might not get $600,000. If only I could get the book on Oprah's Book Club! My genre is true crime. I love the books written by Ann Rule. The advice given by Stephen King was, "Read a lot, and write a lot." I read about 20 books each year. I love my new Amazon Kindle because I can make the font huge!