Writing Prompt “Fox Forest”
Theme: Fox Forest
- leaves from a tree
Word Count: 1,200
Legend says Fox Forest is named for the foxes who live there, foxes who sing in human voices…the rest is up to you.
(If you use the above description above in your story, the extra words will not count against your 1200 words.)
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132 thoughts on “Writing Prompt “Fox Forest””
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The requirement is leaves from a tree. I’ll update it to avoid any confusion.
Oh great now I’ll have this song stuck in my head
I’m embarrassed to say that I used to sing this with my nephew pretty much every 5 minutes for two weeks straight…..
I’ve woken up each morning with this song in my head for the past few days too …
BTW – what does the fox say? 🙂
If you encounter a fox saying any of those words or phrases, you have certainly entered the wrong woods.
My daughter says it was a hit some years ago.
And I didn’t know????
This is definitely what gwanma’s singing tonight for her wittle 3 yr old.
Thank you, Andy.
Look no further than Disney who made the animated Robin Hood a fox, along with foxy Main Marian. As we all know, Robin was a terrific fellow. I’ve always considered foxes sly, and clever, but not really villainous, unless of course, you’re a chicken in a henhouse, in which case, they would probably consider the fox a villain for sure.
THE LAST EYES
“Where we goin’, Basa?”
“I don’t like surprises.”
“Do I care?”
“Let’s just go home.”
“What are you – a mummy’s boy?”
“No, course not.”
“Then shut it and keep up.”
The bigger boy strides on. His brother hesitates, then tags along, skipping to re-find Basajaun’s rhythm. The other boys follow suit, chattering amongst themselves.
* * * * *
To the east of the town there is a dense, dark forest. Many, many years ago, folk in the region gave it a name: ‘Azeri Kantarien Basoa’ . The name has been handed down through the generations. The forest is populated by all kinds of flora and fauna, like any forest worth its name.
* * * * *
“Basa, we’re tired.”
“Okay. I’ll leave you here, then.”
“No! We wouldn’t be able to find our way back.”
“Do I care?”
“I’ll tell mum.”
“No, you won’t.”
“No, I promise you. You won’t.”
“Can’t we just rest for a bit?”
“Aaargh! All right. Five minutes. Then I want you all up and raring to go. Okay?”
“Okay, Basa/Yeah/All right/Sure/You bet/Definitely/Will do/Thanks, Basa.”
The boys flop onto the grass bordering the path. No one is chattering now. They just want to enjoy this brief respite. Some take off their shoes and rub their blistered feet. Others close their eyes and take deep breaths. Basajaun stands some feet away from the group, gazing towards the east. His brother, Eneko, sits cross-legged and stares at Basajaun’s back, trying to figure out what’s got into him.
* * * * *
Legend has it that there also lives in Azeri Kantarien Basoa a large skulk of foxes. They are perfectly normal foxes – orange coat and brush, sharp teeth and eyes – except for one day every century.
* * * * *
“Can you hear that, Basa?”
“Course I can hear it. I’m not deaf!”
“Sounds like singin’!”
“Sounds like it because it is.”
“Where’s it comin’ from?”
“Yeah, you know – that thing with trees, and bushes, and leaves.”
“Wait, Basa! Wait for us!”
* * * * *
On this one day every century, all the foxes in the forest are believed to burst into sublime song.
* * * * *
“If that’s Azeri Kantarien Basoa, I ain’t goin’ no further!”
“You can’t come all this way and not go in!”
“I ain’t goin’, Basa. We ain’t goin’. Ain’t that right, boys?”
“S’right/I reckon not/Too true/We’re with you, Ene!”
“Hang on, boys listen!”
“We ain’t takin’ notice of you no more, Basa.”
“Listen, I said!”
“We ain’t takin’ … we ain’t … we …”
* * * * *
The foxes sing a song that’s so sweet, so seductive, anyone passing nearby will be drawn in.
* * * * *
Come into our foressst, dearsss
You’re the first in many yearsss
Come and leave behind your fearsss
Come in, come in, come in.
The boys file silently past Basajaun. Eneko is the last. He doesn’t look at his brother. When the forest has swallowed Eneko’s tiny form, Basajaun turns away. Whistling along to the tune that’s floating in the air, he retraces his steps westwards.
* * * * *
The song is so seductive that you’ll be drawn in.
Drawn into the darkest recesses of the forest.
The piercing blue eyes watching.
And they’ll be the very last eyes that see you.
“No! We wouldn’t be able to find our way back.”
“Do I care?”
“I’ll tell mum.”
“No, you won’t.”
“No, I promise you. You won’t.”,
you kept me hanging in the dark until near the end.
Glad I’m reading these stories in mid afternoon. I’ll be able to sleep better tonight.
I promise to control myself this time, but oaths make liars!
“… Right, so … The forest is named after a legend about local foxes. Who were supposed to sing in human voices … erm … and lure people in,” Chase flashed a wide grin at the small group, gesturing at the trees surrounding them.
“What for?” a girl in full Goth getup frowned skeptically.
“What’s the point? Of luring people in. For the foxes,” she clarified impatiently.
“Er … to drown them?” Chase grasped for an answer. Try as he might, he couldn’t recall this bit from the Wikipedia entry. There was always one, he thought, wasn’t there – a pedantic pain-in-the-butt who asked stupid questions, instead of just enjoying the ride.
“Drown them where?” the girl’s lanky Goth boyfriend swept an arm around, indicating the trees, the undergrowth, a sun-dappled clearing – and a complete absence of any bodies of water. “I think you confused foxes with Sirens.”
“Mermaids,” countered an older guy in glasses.
“Nah, definitely Sirens.”
“In a forest pond, or a river. They have them in forests, you know,” Chase stated defensively, ruffling his bleached blond hair. “Look, I didn’t invent the stupid legend! You can check for yourselves if you don’t believe me.”
The answering looks said plainly, “we will”. Next thing they’d want their money back – not that 30 bucks per head was real money, anyway.
Truth be told, Chase’s knowledge of local legends was limited to a hasty browse of that Wiki article the night before; but the others didn’t need to know that. Lucky for him that Fox Forest was off the tourist trail, and no-one else had thought of running guided tours.
He hadn’t even meant to get stuck in this hole, but … there was that awesome party, the weed was killer, and … he just sort of woke here, too broke to move on to somewhere more fun. At least the place had a backpacker hostel. Tour guiding was his brilliant idea of how to earn enough for a ride back to civilization; but now it looked like less fun than he’d thought.
Just then, Chase spotted a fox eyeing him through the underbrush. The animal wasn’t singing, but it looked way smarter than it should. Its expression shouted without words, “you’re even dumber than you look, buddy”. Annoyed, Chase neglected to mention the fox to the group, and it disappeared into the undergrowth otherwise unnoticed.
“Are the foxes extinct now?” the question came from a serious-looking girl with a ponytail.
“Not to my knowledge,” replied Chase. “They just don’t like the people and the noise, you know. So we aren’t likely to see them, just like any wild animals. …Well, maybe there’s less foxes than there used to be, but why would they be extinct?”
“Just imagine: everyone’s heard of these singing foxes. In the past, people were afraid of their supposed evil powers; but these days, everyone would want to catch one and put it in a cage.”
“Like exotic songbirds,” the bespectacled guy added thoughtfully.
“What would their singing do in a cage, though? I mean, there’s nowhere to lure people to, and the fox itself can’t run off …” asked the guy’s brother.
“Maybe their song would drive the human captors to suicide,” suggested the Goth guy.
“… Or they’d just stop singing in captivity altogether,” his girlfriend put in.
“Maybe they’d hypnotise the humans into opening the cage,” Chase offered.
Whatever the legends said, the fox in the undergrowth couldn’t sing, or even talk. However, its ears swiveled as the leaves on a group of gangly birches began to rustle. Except that instead of rustling, the leaves produced a sound exactly like human song, complete with legible words. Not that the birches could understand what they were “singing”; it was, in fact, not unlike imitation of speech produced by parrots. (Of course, parrots weren’t native in these parts, and neither the fox nor the trees had ever seen one.) The birches only sensed that the song resonated with them in some way. The fox – if it could talk – might have explained that the song was about following a girl into a forest and getting lost. The Goth couple, flashing each other smiles of sudden recognition, could have named the song as “A Forest” by The Cure – had they thought anyone wanted to know.
“How appropriate,” the girl grinned as the entire group perked up, looking all around and babbling excitedly.
“Could it be the foxes?”
“Nah, just local kids messing around, I bet.”
“Did you set this up?” the bespectacled guy peered suspiciously at Chase.
“Of course not!” the latter shook his head vehemently.
“How would foxes in some middle-of-nowhere forest know Cure songs? Definitely kids.”
The answer, unbeknown to any humans present, was that few tourists didn’t mean no tourists at all; besides, local kids did throw loud dance parties at times – on the forest’s edge a fair distance from here, true, but sound travelled far in the rural quiet. The birches, lacking in intellect though they were, picked up songs quickly.
“So … shall we?” Others may have been scared off by the singing foxes’ evil repute, or at least apprehensive; but an obscure place like Fox Forest mostly attracted people with a fascination for the unusual and the creepy. After a quick exchange of slightly uncertain glances, everybody nodded as one and proceeded in the direction of the singing.
The fox in the undergrowth gave the departing humans a long, considering look – then slunk away noiselessly in the opposite direction, shaking its head as it went. It was already planning to tell all its fox friends about the human who’d set a new record for stupidity.
The humans proceeded with heads swiveling from side to side, scanning the undergrowth for foxes – or other humans. No-one spared a glance for the birches – leaves rustled in the breeze, nothing out of the ordinary. None of them noticed that there was hardly any breeze, or that other trees’ leaves barely moved.
Why did the birches produce the sounds when moving two-legged things were close? Had they been able to reason, and articulate their thoughts, the trees might have mentioned a large burrow, concealed by the undergrowth, located in the direction of the setting sun, just at the edge of their root systems’ reach. The birches could never have explained what or why; but if the two-legged things followed the signing in that direction, and got as far as the burrow … Afterwards there were more good things in the soil for the roots to draw, and all the trees grew lush and tall.
Hope we’ll see a story from you this round; it’s been a while. 🙂
I see the whole thing as an evolutionary quirk where the trees have developed a nice symbiotic relationship with whatever lives in that burrow: trees sing, and everyone gets to eat in the end. Except for humans, but they don’t count. 🙂
(The idea of singing leaves came from the e-mail notification of the new prompt, which looked as if the requirements were “singing foxes” and “singing leaves”. For some reason, singing leaves worked better for me than singing foxes.)
Thanks for the tip: “intelligible” definitely fits better.
Also, please allow me return the compliment: the “creepy/ evil kid” horror trope never gets old if executed properly, and you’ve done a great job with it. As an aside, your story works great as it is, but if it were longer I’d also like to know how Basajaun himself escaped the hypnotic effects of the foxes’ song, and perhaps his motivation as well.
The Basajaun mystery is open to interpretation (maybe a bit TOO open!) A clue may be in the name (see Robert’s comment).
Yes, I spotted the ‘singing leaves’ thing, too, and considered going that way … but ultimately decided on the easier route. You made a great job of it, though.
I just reread the last two paragraphs without the sentence: Why did the birches produce the sounds when moving two-legged things were close? It was better without it.
The ruby gold leaves spiral up, lifted by the breeze and then, float gently down to carpet the forest floor. Brin glanced up occasionally, pensive, as he whittled the block of wood held steady between two arthritic knees. His gnarled freckled hands moved carefully over the wood, chipping and nicking away at the lump coming to life beneath his sharp pocketknife.
He knew then, the time of singing would be nigh at hand. His hands played with the wood block he had picked off his winter pile of firewood in the shed. Its shape was right and most importantly there was only one knot. It was perfect for what he wanted.
Putting the piece of timber down on the workbench, he wearily scratched his chin, his aching fingers scrabbled through the wispy reddish white beard that now reached his waist. It would not be long now.
He put the half-carved block down. He would work on it later that evening There was too much that needed to be done in the daylight hours.
Forty-two years ago, he and his wife Ava had made the journey to this valley in the farthest reaches of their island state. Ava had been heavy with child. The first of their six children; two of whom had been still born. The other four had left their parents and the forest dwelling to explore a greater world outside the seclusion of the valley and its forest once they reached an age where hormones had necessitated an expansion of their existence. Ava and Brin let them go.
“We’ve done our best. They’ll make their own way in any field they choose. They are clever, one and all.”
“It would have been right for at least one of them to stay and help us in our dotage.” Brin grumbled, when their last son Avak left them. He has stayed until he was nearing thirtyish. Brin had thought he would go and at least return to the forest, but when his sister Julyanna came with her husband Meddark from the city over one hundred miles away, he saw their happiness in their togetherness. He wanted that for himself. His restlessness grew, as did his temper.
Brin found him beating a frightened nanny goat what had played up on the milking stand.
“What’s wrong with ye? She’s a first timer on the stand. There’s no call to clip ‘er like that.”
“Ay, there is. The bitch put her leg inna tha bucket. Now five litres of milk spoilt.”
Brin scratched his chin and looked sharply at the young man.
“Well, kids and lambs welcome to it. It’s not like we’re short. For crying out, man. Cease ye tantrums. Besides we also have put out pans for the foxes. Our little forest friends.”
Avak stood and before his father could say a word, hurled the bucket out the open shed door.
“I cannot. I CAN NOT!” He shouted and strode towards the door. “DO THIS ANYMORE!”
Brin finished the milking and took two brimming buckets into the kitchen of the house that he had built with his own hands and extended over forty years. Avak was sitting with Ava at the long wooden table in the kitchen.
“He wants to go.” Ava stated flatly.
Brin put the buckets down gently on the bench and turned to their youngest child.
“Well, then, go. Tonight, if you must.” Ava gasped at the abrupt surliness of his tone so unlike the gentleness of Brin’s normal demeanor. Avak stood up and relief flooded his features.
“I intend to. Pa, I’m sorry.” He turned to his mother and grasped her hand. “Ma, I will return. When I’ve found what I want. I can’t, you know, stay.” Ava and Brin exchanged sad glances.
“It’s alright.” She told Avak. “This isolation, for you, must be hard. Your father and I have each other. Go with blessing.” She kissed the top of his head.
He stayed till dawn and left as the sun streaked the eastern horizon, making the tops of the forest trees gleam a fiery orange glow. His rucksack filled with spare clothes and food for the four-day trek through the forest to the road that led to civilization. He was rapidly lost from sight and had not been seen for the past ten years by his father. In that time, Ava sickened and died not two years after his departure.
Brin buried his wife at the edge of the clearing. The foxes gathered there near the grave mound. It was then crouched over her grave, weeping for the loss of her, he first heard the keening cry of the vixen.
She had her three cubs with her. Small chubby little things with shining bright black eyes. They stood stock still and then after a few minutes sat back, raised their muzzles to the night sky and mimicked their mother’s weeping song.
He rolled back on his haunches in wonder. A strange comforting sound that calmed his wild grief. He had thought to follow her in those first few days after he had discovered her body cold and blue lipped, huddled in their bed after he had come in from the early morning milking and caring for the flocks of geese and ducks and other livestock.
It was there where he fed them his spare milk and meat scraps. From that first wake meal he gave them near the fresh grave, it became his daily routine to spend an hour at dusk and again in the early morning. He fed them and watched their little family grow. He planted several flame trees around the grave site in the months after Ava’s death. The trees grew as did the little foxes and some went away. Others came.
Brin had carved the small foxes from the forest wood, then painted them with red soil ochre and white clay. The wooden figurines he placed on the pathway to Ava’s grave. If anything happened to him, when the children came back, they would know where their mother was buried.
He finished his chores and made his way to the grave site laden with food for the foxes. He was so tired lately and spent more time than he ought down by Ava’s last resting place. In the growing darkness, he saw the glimmer of eyes and soft velvet forms moving through the forest.
Gently he placed the meat scraps and milk in their containers by the edge of the clearing. He was sitting down cross-legged in his usual position when pain wrapped his head in a vicelike band of agony. Gasping he fell forward onto all fours, panting he tried to rise and could not. He sank slowly down, face down onto the earth.
The vixen padded forward after some time. The man’s stillness confused her. He had the all too familiar smell of death about him. She bent forward after some time and licked his face gently before backing off. Now, she was sure. She took her cubs with her when she went.
The foxes did not return. Nor did the children. Only the red gold leaves fell carpeting the body and the grave.
Then again, Phil is the English teacher in this group, and I may be whistling in the wind with my comment. God knows I miss it about half the time in my stories.
Anyway, I truly enjoyed the melancholy sadness of your story. Well done,
I seldom do FB anymore and don’t keep up. I couldn’t take the vitriol that people I love and respect were posting. Too much hate on the site. It was easier to no longer be a part of it.
This was really professionally crafted and very realistic, though you created an atmosphere that felt mystical and deep… like the feeling I used to get from The Black Cauldron (and the other books in that series, especially Taran, Wanderer, which explores more realistic and serious topics like these… and it was set in old time Wales, which felt close enough to this setting to feel familiar to me I guess).
I am left with a feeling that something huge and profound has happened, and I need to mull it over in my head and reflect on it, like a lesson about life that can actually provide some kind of emotional guidance, not just a cheap, fleeting feeling of satisfaction!
This was a home run for me!
The last paragraph would be quietly sad if not for the sentence “Nor did the children.” I find it simply heartbreaking; especially looking earlier in the story, when it appears that none of the children had visited for 10 years, and perhaps didn’t even know their mother had died. Made me wonder if they’d ever realised both their parents were gone, and how long it took.
Speaking of language, IMO one sentence doesn’t fit stylistically with the rest of the story: “The other four had left their parents and the forest dwelling to explore a greater world outside the seclusion of the valley and its forest once they reached an age where hormones had necessitated an expansion of their existence.”
Cunning, sly, wily, sleekit. Never clever or smart. Well, we changed all that. We showed them. Who’s clever now?
‘Where are we going?’
‘I told you, it’s a surprise. You’ll just have to be patient for once.’
‘I hate surprises and I have no patience.’
Rory wasn’t her usual type. His red hair for one thing would have normally been an outright ‘no’, but there was something about him. Unlike the usual boys who hung about her, vying for her attention like peacocks displaying their wares, Rory was an enigma. He was deep. Elusive even. There was something about him which intrigued her.
‘Rory, seriously, what is this place? I thought we were going to dinner?’ She pulled her light cashmere cardigan tighter around her and leaned in closer to him, shivering, as the clouds passed overhead. She stopped as they reached the edge of the forest. Ahead of them was a narrow dirt path, barely visible under the leaves and broken branches.
‘I am NOT going through there! I’ll ruin my shoes.’
‘Come on Lady Victoria. Get over yourself.’ He grabbed her hand and led her into the forest. The path soon disappeared, and she found herself treading across the soft, springy, moss covered forest floor, through a thicket of tress, so tightly packed they blocked out the light. Reaching a small clearance, they stopped. The smell of damp decaying earth underneath a layer of russet and gold-coloured leaves hung heavy in the air. The silence engulfed them.
Rory sat on a boulder in the middle of the clearing and unpacked his ruck sack. He laid out a picnic blanket and grinned as he pulled out a hipflask and a pack of sandwiches.
‘Dinner is served Madam!’
Victoria screwed up her face as she looked around for somewhere to sit. ‘This isn’t exactly what I had in mind. This place gives me the creeps. It’s so quiet.’
The leaves rustled and whirled around beneath her feet.
‘You’ve angered them now.’
‘The foxes of course. Have your really never heard of this place or the legend of Fox Forest?’
‘Never. But I have a feeling you’re going to tell me.’
He offered her the hipflask along with the box of sandwiches and leaned back against the stone as he recounted the tale.
‘Forsooth Mi’Lady. There’s been bloodshed in them here woods. It was your lot actually. The ‘Tally-Ho’ brigade. Ten men, six hounds, one terrified, exhausted fox, ripped apart in the name of sport.’ Bravery at its finest.’
Rory paused to take a swig from the hipflask, before continuing.
‘Now legend has it that, the foxes soon realised they could out-smart the stupid hounds if they worked as a pack, which isn’t typical fox behaviour you understand. They were usually chased into these woods by the hounds and surrounded by the hunt. It was simple. One fox would put itself in danger and lure the hounds deep into the woods, probably to this very point, before disappearing underground. The idiotic dogs raced around like headless chickens, howling and barking, and slowly, the foxes would appear from their underground stakeouts, surround the hounds, and well… you can guess the rest. This carried on over centuries, until the hounds would no longer enter the forest. It is said, that sometimes in the dead of night, the sounds of animals in pain can be heard coming out the forest, but no one is ever sure it’s the fox or the hound.’
‘You’re an idiot Rory! For your information my lot weren’t bloodthirsty killers. Fox hunting was purely about pest control. The fox were vermin. If you had done your research properly, you’d know that they weren’t ripped apart. The dogs were called off and the fox was shot. You’re a typical towney, you just don’t understand country life. You think you can impose your idealistic values and morals on us, yet you don’t realise how much you need us.’ She glared at Rory, her cheeks flushed despite the cool night air.
A twig snapped behind her.
‘Can we play with her mummy? Please?’
‘No! it’s not safe.’
‘But Rory is with her. Perhaps she will sing with us?’
‘What was that? Did you hear that? Someone’s here. Rory, this place is freaking me out. Can we go? Please?’
‘Relax. It’s probably just an animal,’ he smiled.
‘You and your bloody legends! It’s ridiculous. Animals can’t decide to stake out and ambush other animals
A gust of wind rushed through the forest, whipping the leaves up into a frenzy, like mini-tornadoes, swirling around in front of her.
‘I told you, didn’t I? She’s not the playful type.’
‘There it is again. I heard voices? I want to go now!.’
He smirked. ‘But I haven’t finished the story. You haven’t heard the best part.’
The leaves settled as he continued.
‘So, the hounds stopped coming in, but the idiotic huntsmen pack didn’t. The Laird’s son, a foolish young lad, about fourteen or so, keen to show his bravery, and frustrated by the hounds whimpering pathetically around the edge of the forest, declared he would follow the fox on foot and would show it no mercy when he found it. Did you know that the fox hunters often collected small trophies from their kill? No. Thought not. Anyway, poor lad. They heard his screams from the edge of the forest, but they were too late. They found him right here, laid out on this boulder. Died of multiple bite wounds. And worse, but I won’t go into detail.’
Victoria paled. ‘Okay. Enough now. You’ve had your fun. I don’t even know why you’re telling me this.’
‘Well, despite the ban, they seem to be gathering a head of steam again. Ýour lot. We knew they would of course, but these things are better nipped in the bud, don’t you think?’
A familiar horn sounded in the distance. Up ahead Victoria saw a streak of red, racing towards the forest, keeping low, the hounds hot on its heels. The leaves whipped up and moved swiftly towards the edge of the forest.
‘Run my boy, run. Fast as you can’
Victoria gasped as she watched the leaves transform into row upon row of snarling foxes standing their ground at the forest entrance. The hounds halted and paced back and forth, unwilling to go any further. Their cries and whimpers could be heard, alongside that of the huntsmen.
‘Get in you stupid bloody dogs. After it for God’s sake.’
‘I’ll go father.’
‘Rory, no! I recognise that voice. It’s the Pembleton boy. Please, we’ve got to stop this. We can’t let them harm him,’ she pleaded, scrambling to her feet.
Rory smirked. ‘Enough now’ he called.
‘Let us sing to him.’
‘No. He understands.’
The foxes retreated and the leaves rustled once more as they settled onto the forest floor. The boy, pale and shaking, turned and ran.
‘Oh my God. You spoke to them. What are YOU? What just happened?’ Victoria whispered. ‘I don’t understand.’ she backed away, horrified.
‘Just consider it a warning. Now go spread the legend amongst your own folk.’
Rory turned and disappeared into the leaves, singing his victory song.
I’m assuming the story I read Is the corrected version, because I didn’t see very much to change. Good story, really good. I enjoyed where you took me. As I told Ilana, so far it’s between you and her for top spot, IMHO, so good luck. I have to think about this. Loved the originality of the story in dealing with the prompt. And, as I went back to Rory’s red hair in the first paragraph, after reading the last paragraph, I realized you told us all along the Rory was a fox, but I didn’t catch it. Very well done, I have no quibbles with the writing in this story.
Actually, you made it explicitly beautiful for me.
My only quibble is a couple of lines of dialogue that got me confused:
1) ‘I’ll go father.’
‘Rory, no! I recognise that voice. It’s the Pembleton boy. Please, we’ve got to stop this. We can’t let them harm him,’ she pleaded, scrambling to her feet.
I think these need some kind of break between them. It took me several reads to work out that the focus switched from the hunters to Victoria and Rory, rather than a continuation of the hunters’ dialogue (implying that the boy’s name is also Rory?).
2) ‘No. He understands.’
Who are they talking about – the Pembleton boy? What exactly does he understand?
Overall, an exciting read. And extra points for keeping everyone alive (this time), 🙂
I’ll fix it!
THE FOX’S ‘SONG’
Legend says Fox Forest is named for the foxes who live there, foxes who sing in human voices…
I have heard those anguished voices, bestial cries wrenched with pain, cutting through the stillness of the cold night air. Only the most sadistic of minds would call that blood chilling chorus ‘singing’. Many have been lost to that forest. My brother amongst them. Sometimes I think that I can still hear his voice calling out from the darkness. Caught amongst the fox’s ‘song’…
When we first came to that forsaken place, as we were ushered out of the cab of our would be taxi driver (a local who spoke no English, but readily took our money, and sped off the second we got out) I was overwhelmed by a most potent odour. My nostrils stinging with the all-pervading stench, before some hint of spice lingering in that unknown musk, caught in my chest, throwing me into a fit of violent coughing. Particles from that noxious cloud seemed to settle on the tongue. A foul sediment with a flavour akin to dust covered meat, laden with rot and cinnamon. I will never forget that taste.
There was a haze hanging about us. Plumes of smoke rising from beyond the treeline. Thick enough to block out the sunlight. Choking in this eerie occlusion with no idea where our driver had so unceremoniously abandoned us, due to no other obvious signs of human activity, we headed towards the source of that eye-watering smog. A subharmonic rumbling reverberated around us. As we drew closer it became apparent that it was in fact a guttural voice. Another singer then adding his growl to the otherworldly duet. Accompanied by a rhythmic clanging.
The crackling of the fire signalled our arrival at the clearing. Revealing a large crowd and the makers of such ethereal music. Two throat singers and a man wielding a gong. The backing to the most gruesome of settings. With their voices rising in tremulous waves, the gong was struck with increasing intensity as the duo reached their climax. Then all fell deathly silent. A moment later there was a strangled grunting, a frantic squeal, followed by a hiss. A loud whistling as of a kettle coming to a boil and a sequence of popping. With their backs to us, silhouetted against the fire, I could not at first make out their actions. A gust of wind cleared the smoke for an instant, hurling the nauseating aroma of burning hair and roasting flesh our way. A large figure wielding some sort of two-pronged pitchfork strode solemnly to the side of the gathering before spearing a screaming crate. Raising a convulsing fox into the air and gravely lowering it into the blaze. Its once sleek fur, now matted with gore and slick with blood, glinting in the firelight, before being consumed by the flames.
I spun to meet my brother’s horrified gaze. Then turned my attention to the stack of cages across from us. In a shot we were unlatching all that we could. Some mangled in traps, others bound with snares. It was abhorrent. Utterly repulsive. It was a mad hope to think that our actions would go unnoticed. As my brother desperately tried to untangle wire from a fox’s neck, it lashed out. His pained shout and the fox’s snarls made our activities agonisingly obvious.
With their first shouts we ran. Their language was unintelligible, but they were armed and angry. How we lost them, I do not know. The smoke suffocatingly dense, our lungs burning, our legs heavy. We ran for so long. Ducking repeatedly behind trees, rocks, to catch what breath we could before running onwards again and again. As the day sank into twilight, we finally came to a stop. Waiting in silence. At last, all that we could hear was the wind rustling amongst the trees.
My brother looked at me as if to let out a sigh of relief, but instead threw his hand to his mouth, racked by a bout of coughing. Lowering his hand, he froze aghast and held it up to me. It was black with blood as were his lips. Something was very wrong. He fell to his knees, wheezing and shaking. All I knew was that we needed shelter. I needed to make a fire. The cold was setting in. So, I took his hand, helped him stand and took his weight upon my shoulders. Supporting him as best I could.
As the Sun set a piercing cry shattered the last of my hopes. Another breaking out from the opposite side of us moments later. An entire chorus of barks and shrieks encircled us from near and far, intermixed with growling and retching. At one instant animal like, at another hideously human. I began to run, dragging my brother with me but the cries came from every direction. There was a rumble of thunder. Suddenly my brother wrenched free and disappeared into the black. My calls drowned out by their screams. The cacophony grew so loud and reached such fervour that I too felt I should start to scream! The trees all about me started thrashing violently. There was no escape. Then in an instant everything went still. There was not a sound…where were they?
It seemed like an aeon passed as I awaited imminent death from all sides. When a gentle pattering began. Raindrops. But no, something larger. I mistook them for falling leaves until one started writhing in my hair. I snatched at it with disgust before reflexively looking upwards. Oh, how I wish that I had not looked. Dozens of dark forms, backlit by lightning as sheets of rain began to fall, were clinging to the tops of the trees. Their heads arched back at neck-breaking angles, mouths agape. As the droplets touched their parched tongues and pustule ridden skins, they erupted. Pouring forth an unstoppable tide of worms. Their putrescence raining down upon me.
I did not handle this realisation well. It is at this point that my memory becomes intermittent. I remember the smell, I remember the foxes, I remember the screaming…. I can still hear their song.
Victim was found attempting to jump off a bridge. Two officers died in attempts to restrain her. Upon apprehension subject succumbed to a severe seizure. After successful resuscitation she broke free and fell into the river below.
The distribution of pathologic lesions, internal cysts and parasite burden of all major organs was extensive. Victim was immunosuppressed. Suffering from additional bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. Impossible to determine which organs had the heaviest parasite burden due to rupturing. Upon recovery the entire body cavity had been expelled. Witnesses claim this expulsion occurred upon contact with the water. A yet unidentified species of parasitic worm was found at high density throughout the brain. The resultant damage serving as explanation for the victim claiming to hear singing, voices telling her to jump and behaving in such a violent and illogical manner.
Upon first inspection parasites appear to be Platyhelminthes. Flat worms potentially of the Echinococcus genus but expulsion of larvae upon contact with water more akin to Schistosoma.
Highest tier alert. Initiation of containment protocols advised. Unknown communicability. May be waterborne, bloodborne or worse. Either way they are in our waterways now…
Your writing is crisp, although you switched from 1st person to 3rd without warning and it took me a minute to realize the teller of the story was dead. Don’t know if that’s possible or not. I think written in 3rd the entire story may have been a better venue, but that’s really being nitpicky. The horrifying thought of what you describe being in our waterways now, is a gruesome thought indeed. Sleeping tonight, may just be difficult.
(It’s also the most gruesome story this round, by the by.)
The post-mortem section really ties things up and accounts for the exaggerated horror and things that don’t quite make sense in the narrator’s account. I guess we’ll always be wondering where she picked up all those parasites, and if any foxes had been involved at all … But hey, you fulfilled all the conditions of the prompt to a T. 🙂
I do hope that the parasitic worms and their effects aren’t based on personal experience working at the zoo. 🙂
I felt like it needed to be longer though…just saying.
You are from Australia? Good luck and stay safe! I am from the UK.
Oh lockdown. What can be done? These things happen, pandemics have occurred throughout history and will happen forever more. I just hope that people keep adhering to safety guidelines and comprehend that patience and persistence are the only answer. All will be well given time.
But yes my story certainly touches upon the sort of scenario we are in, although that was not my primary intention. Facing gruesome truths head on, doing your best to find solutions to them and being able to find a way to laugh at the ludicrosity of it all, no matter how bad things get, is certainly my way of coping with things.
At least thanks to lockdown and mental melancholy, we have created the perfect recipe for writing strange tales such as these!
Yes – I have been panicking and double masking and not hugging my parents and shuttering my children inside this whole time, while everyone feasts and cavorts around me, their laughing mouths spraying little pieces of foam and particles of food….
I can’t stop thinking about The Masque of the Red Death since this all started…
It really influenced the story before this one, but I never actually name dropped it until now…
I just babbled about memento mori and danced around the topic, but Poe really nailed it with that story.
Where I live, at this very moment, there is a huge percent of the population that took only one vaccine… or NO vaccine, even though at this point we should be closing the gap to herd immunity… even though I waited and waited for a vaccine for my family… other people don’t care, and they never cared about my children or my parents or any loved one of another human being outside of their selfish little bubble.
The 2 vaccine sites down the street have maybe 10 cars parked there at any time.
Where is the altruism?
Oh parasites! I have had a lot of odd experiences with those guys. I have an MSc in Applied Ecology, have done necropsies, did some fieldwork in Borneo and Kenya and unfortunately yes there were parasites at the zoo! But nothing lethal…I hope. I mean they can lie dormant inside of you for decades…yey!
For some reason with this prompt the first things that came into my head were:
1) That there are a lot of Fox myths in the East. They worship fox oriented deities, there are lots of tales to do with fox/human shapeshifters luring people into the forest and I remember that they historically carried out ‘Fox Fumigation Rituals’. Normally more to do with blood or burning parts of things rather than entire foxes though!
2) That foxes carry echinococcus (flat worms) that can be transmitted to humans. Many species of flatworm can be transmitted through contact with infected animals (faeces, urine, blood, saliva, apart from directly penetrating the skin). And schistosoma (blood flukes…ugh!) can burst out of animals/people causing them to want to soak the burning wound in water. Upon contact with which the worm releases thousands of eggs…! Plus spread can be variable, they can multiply immediately or lie dormant within their hosts, as I mentioned…and worry about frequently.
And also for me the biggest conclusion I came to after heading out naively idealistically into the world of ecology was that Westerners frequently misinterpret what people in the Eastern hemisphere are doing and why. They have a lot of terrible things to deal with which we largely never have come into contact with. More often than not what at first seems ‘barbaric’ or strange is actually being done for a practical purpose.
So what I loosely wanted to convey was that through misunderstanding, the need to stop the spread led to ignorant tourists, would be do gooders, becoming infected and spreading some sort of absurdly potent parasites to the Western world…
The limitation of 1200 words made conveying all of this very tricky but then again if we did not have that pre-requisite then I probably would have never finished writing this in time to share it!
Such an awesome prompt though, really set my mind awhir!
I may well expand upon this little story…although I maybe need to turn my thought to more wholesome things for a time haha. Get the parasites out of my brain!
You are my hero!
Very interesting stuff, I had no idea you strengthened it with your own scientific knowledge!
I wanted to be an entomologist or maybe a parisitologist when I was a lad, it is very cool to meet someone with firsthand experience!
I was trying to make my foxfire really be honey mushrooms, but I don’t really know a ton about mycology and there are a lot of different species, so maybe being vague is better!
The exact thought I am having for the SCP entry is to do with radioactive fungus! The novel I am working on has fungus involved quite heavily too. With specialist knowledge no one notices mostly, as long as you speak or write with confidence they assume you know what you’re on about and go with it! Beautifully describe your bluff and all is well. Wasn’t it Lovecraft who said “Never explain anything”? I think so…
One of my biggest regrets in life was when I was on fieldwork in Borneo, I got stung in the head by something like an Asian Hornet pretty much the instant I got there, so I could not go out the night that the others found bioluminescent fungus! It is ridiculous but I am still like ohhh I want to see some!!
My mind lately always wanders to parasites or fungus. But I also write slightly less macabre scripts for comedy sketches to try to maintain my sanity ha. There is such an allure in strange and deadly things though!
It wouldn’t even be farfetched, and you can describe things in that perfect balance of real science and deliberate vagueness like you said.
And yeah, the elephant in the room with Lovecraft was bothering me, thanks for addressing it.
You got this!
Good scifi elements and I loved the flatworms!
Have you ever heard of SCP (Secure. Contain. Protect.)?
This could be a report from one of their secret files!
I initially went into an Ancient History degree thinking to get ideas for Horror, with some vague potential future profession attached to it, but the Egyptian Revolution broke out so I kind of diverted to Zoology to flee the human race…got lost along the way somewhere and am now trying to flip back from the painfully regulated formality of science writing to the freedom of fiction.
I would never say that I love flatworms! Ha. Although anything with the ability to destroy something larger than itself is to be admired in its own right.
I had not heard of SCP, but upon a googling, oh my god I am totally exploring that further…oooh. I want to write things for them!
And those are some impressive credentials!
Oh yeah, I too started thinking of nine-tailed foxes and Eastern myths (because I lived in Japan for a little while as a child), but I really didn’t know anything besides the shapeshifting bit and I couldn’t draw on any real practices – very impressive use of data and wow!
Lovecraft was a strange man but his works are fantastic! And I can relate to his dark family background and melancholic ways, his stories brought me a lot of solace when I was a young teenager, so I have a soft spot for him despite his overt racism and people’s polarised views on the chap! The intensity and relish he had when describing bloodthirsty rituals or incomprehensible beings, is something I very much enjoy. I need to find my own signature words. Managing to claim your own vocabulary is awesome. Eldritch and Cyclopean are his. But yes, most excellent that your sons have hopped aboard the Lovecraft train!
In one of my interviews to do an Egyptology degree I brought up Lovecraft’s ‘Imprisoned with the Pharaohs’ and it was like lighting this American professor’s fuse! I’d found the Horror password. He really wanted me to go there. He was running around showing me books of hieroglyphs and statuettes. Aww but alas it was not to be.
I don’t know that much either about Japanese/Chinese/Tibetan/Mongolian folklore. But I am intrigued by it. I just happened to have read a few papers at some point in the past on blood and burning rituals, I think when I was doing something on human-predator conflict. It is funny I always got side-tracked by intriguing folklore that would pop up in the google search. Well at least my knowledge gained through procrastination is now coming into use somewhere. I have mostly been reading a lot of Slavic folklore recently. They make me laugh out loud a lot with just how darkly they end and how utterly insane they are. I don’t really know how to interpret huts made of witches that walk around on chicken feet!
That must have left some very stark impressions on you as a child, being in Japan. I am jealous. The Japanese are certainly masters of horror, probably largely due to their folktales. The games: Silent Hill, Project Zero (Fatal Frame), Resident Evil and the films in the Ju-On (The Grudge) and Ring series, offer some of the best psychological horror there is. I have never really touched on Japanese literature but I have no doubt that will open up entirely new realms of terror!
Come back for a prompt some time, I really enjoyed your style!
You gave me confidence to stray off this site when you were all excited about the SCP submission, and I submitted to 4 or 5 different contests since we last spoke (I was taking baby steps and walking on stepping stones, I guess that was a big leap for me to the next stone but it is over, now I will just submit all over the place until I eventually get some good feedback!).
Check out this one some time, it seems maybe up your alley?
(They get voice actors to read them aloud)
By John Mansfield
Word Count: 1,015
Foxfire still burns deep in the Georgia woods, though few alive would recognize its faint glow. If you are patient and you already know what to look for, photos CAN be found online… once you sort through all the fakes that people doctored and all the pictures of eighty other kinds of bioluminescent fungi that people confuse for the real deal! But a still image of a candle flame does no justice to the glory of standing before a roaring bonfire, does it not? Likewise, the only way to TRULY enjoy the fire of the fox is to turn off your phone, plunge yourself into pure darkness, and venture out into the wild night with thirsty eyes!
What is that? An indoor person, you say?
Tonight, you will become the first honorary member of the Foxfire Brigade!
The notorious and prestigious society of nocturnal sleuths that hunt for glowing fungi? Really? Zero recognition? We have made great strides in the field of… well, looking for glowing fungi at night! Take a gander at our expansive gallery downstairs some time, you might be impressed with our collection of photos and artwork relating to the topic…
But we have no time for perusing through material possessions and lifeless trinkets, the Call of the Wild has sounded! Gather your accoutrements and your wits too, lad, for we are about to embark on an expedition of – a prior engagement, you say?
There is nothing more pressing than the matter at hand! You came here seeking an outing that would take you away from The City, did you not? One tires of urban nuisances after so many years… one longs to return to the forest… to the ancestral home where we once frolicked with naïve arboreality! Do not be ashamed!
The ape within you has been domesticated, but now it grows restless. You have forgotten how to walk through the real world and SEE. Roads, signs, and paved sidewalks have always guided your way. Shoes, socks, carpeting, and meticulously cultivated grass lawns have pampered your feet. Tsk.
Your physical form sags, but worse still, your soul languishes! It longs to be released into that Great Green once again, for it is weakened and encumbered with the ensnaring manacles and fetters that your fellow men have wrapped you in!
Cast off your chains!
Yes, take the first step across the threshold and out of Civilization! See how the weeds are reclaiming the garden? Feel how the briars and brambles clasp and cling, like the hands of friends that grab at your garments and try to keep you from leaving for just a while longer?
Excellent! Now pause here at the REAL threshold: the entrance to the forest. Take a minute and let your eyes adjust to the dim glow of starlight filtering through oak leaves: the only light to hunt foxfire in! Moonlight is much too strong and there would be no way to see the foxfire…
It is just as crucial to allow the chorus of katydids and crickets to wash over you. Remove your hands from your ears, there is no fighting it. This is the aural backdrop of the forest at night, and music to my ears!
Do not worry about behind you, we have several of our brothers and sisters there to ensure that you do not lose your way…
Mind the webs now!
See? This is only one of the trials and tribulations that can beset a sylvan adventurer who is unwary. And one reason why we should keep our eyes on the path ahead! It helps if you wave a stick around as you go, like so…
The point is to break the web so you can pass, not to kill the spider! Cease that unnecessary violence at once! Did you not read the plaque above our door? All life is sacred to our order, and it should not be snuffed out on a whim… or because you find it to be “icky”.
Perhaps I misjudged your character? Perhaps the corrupting influence of The City has wrought more damage than I estimated?
No matter. We are past the point of no return. You are either ready, or you are NOT.
Tread with more care now, for there are rotting oak logs and stumps all about. This is the supper of our elusive target! You see, foxfire feeds on the wood of the trees themselves, twisting black tendrils that grow under the bark and beneath the detritus until they spread insidiously throughout the forest, linking each tree to the next in an unseen web of an entirely different nature! It is the detriment of many an orchid, but what a beautiful display of color it creates by night!
But why must I preach to you so, when the sacred grove at the center of this wooded labyrinth grows nearer with each step? Can’t you hear the voices of my brethren joining with the crickets and katydids in song as they await our arrival? And other sounds stirring as well, hmm?
The rhythmic patter of hundreds of padded paws creeping around you… surrounding you in a spiral formation like the eye of a hurricane?
Those are the foxes from which the name derives, silly fool!
Come closer! Get a good look. There is plenty of light to see them by, now that we have arrived, and they are quite docile. Noisy, but docile.
See how the brilliant, bluish-green light bathes their fur? One could hardly recognize them as foxes!
Do you hear their song? That faint murmuring beneath the human and insect voices, like a forlorn sigh?
And the trees! Do you SEE now the glorious trees, the sustenance for our Luminous Mana? Covered and filled with foxfire until the light is blinding?!?
All creatures who consume The Fire of the Fox are inextricably bound to one another in an eternal embrace! Just as the trees that harbor them are links in an unbreakable chain…
It is time.
You must receive the Arboreal Sacrament.
Before dawn, you too will sing The Song of the Fox!
All right everyone, the story submission time for this prompt is now closed, I will post the voting link soon, at which time you will have 24 hours to vote.
I am not worthy of such fine words!
Regardless I thoroughly enjoyed your story. I used to be an overnight zoo tour guide and bush craft instructor and this is delightfully reminiscent of that! The narrator’s attitude towards townsfolk and fanatical persistence in forcing them to join them in revering the glory of nature is very endearing. I also adore the phrase ‘You must receive the Arboreal Sacrament’.
Technology takes two steps forward and three steps back yet again!
Your past work as a tour guide sounds incredibly interesting and rewarding! I could never do it, but it would fun to guide people and see them actually get intrigued. It is cool that you can identify with something in my story, since I worried that it would just seem outlandish and weird!
If I can be a tour guide, you totally could! I am by nature a recluse but you just slam down the persona, pretty much exactly in the format you wrote this in and emulate that character. I was maybe a little bit too much like your character on my tours but the guests seemed to enjoy it.
We genuinely led tours by torchlight and I used to add horror elements to it all because there was a bell tower and wolves! Amidst actual zoological facts. I need to try and get a tour guiding job again, it was such fun. Although at times chaotic. Leading dozens of people around in the dark always is!
I would absolutely love to do Horror tours. Might look into that in London or make some ghost stories up in my village. Just force people along on them in your narrator’s style.
(And you busted me)
It took me 2 reads to appreciate your story: at first i was somewhat thrown by a seeming lack of narrative or resolution. IOn second thoughts, I must have been influenced by most other stories being in the horror genre or similar: I kept wondering who’s gonna eat them in your story :), whereas you took a completely different approach.
You nailed the narrator – I seem to mix the hippie type with an Elmer Gantry type or a carnival barker/Wizard of Oz/ snake oil merchant type a ton, though I never noticed it until recently!
I guess it is because they are all me, and I am just as dramatic and exclamation point prone as all my talkative and loud characters!
Here is the voting link.
You officially have 24 hours from the timestamp of this comment to vote!
Good luck all!
Not dumb at all….I simply forgot to actually paste the link hahaha
I had to vote twice so please ignore the first vote where I had Phil ‘t in two places and take the second vote.Sorry.
Got it! Thank you!
Without further ado…. here are your winners!!!
A dead heat tie for 1st Place:
Foxes of the Forest by Ilana Leeds and Exploring Legends by Vicki Chvatal!!!
2nd Place: Victory Song by kirstennairn
3rd Place: The Last Eyes by Phil Town
4th Place: The Fox’s Song by eHow the Scribe
5th Place: The Foxfire Brigade by John Mansfield
The story with the favorite character was Brin from “Foxes of the Forest” by Ilana Leeds.
And the story with the best dialogue was “Exploring Legends” by Vicki Chvatal.
Seesh…great job knocking it out of the park ladies!
To be totally honest I thought I could be the tie breaker.
I read both stories twice each and honestly couldn’t choose which one I liked better.
Both were EXCEPTIONAL.
I was going to try to make a Dad joke involving the word “vixen”, but a little voice talked me out of it!
Y’all are clever though!
You are so right about “eldritch”!
That is one of those “dog whistles” that lets you know you are in the realm of Lovecraft (or someone who reads his work).
I am SO glad that you didn’t use that word, but it seems like you are way ahead of me and you already avoid using it.
I think it was “subharmonic” that first gave me the vibe, not because he owns that word, but because it is one of those brainy words that he would have used.
I have discovered that me and my sons have been playing so many games with a huge Lovecraft influence for years: Half Life 1 and 2, Terraria, Quake, and Darkest Dungeon (though the last one is pretty obvious if you just take a good look at it), not to mention all the movies and books (Stephen King too).
If you look at the “Silence” prompt, I wrote one with a broken link (so you have to scroll down like a thousand pages) that is me doing a kind of parody of a Lovecraft story.
It is the same monologue style as this last one, because I figured out that people don’t like my exposition and I have trouble with the narrative perspective (it keeps jumping around, like the camera man can possess people at will and then abandon their bodies to fly around and get a better view).
Back to your story: I saw how you were trying to show that the narrator didn’t understand the “ritual” that he was interrupting, which was cool because it played on the xenophobia that you mentioned, but in a way that was less Lovecraftian because you were sort of showing how it was the Westerners fault, not the fault of “primitive savages” or an ancient god.
It is easy for some of the nuances and deeper points to get lost and buried as the next prompt starts and peoples attention shifts away…. you kind of only get a few shots for someone to notice the fine details that you lovingly crafted….. har har lovecraft.
Apologies for a delayed response (or if this is in the wrong place, I just clicked reply on an earlier message and am hoping for the best!) I am scatty at the best of times. I am trying to get started with the whole self employment malarkey. Designing my website from scratch and doing all of the business plan nonsense. Defending my own existence to get up and running as a freelance writer/editor/proofreader/producer/voice artist. Basically trying to do anything and everything that lets me work remotely and support my creative projects but viably provide services to people in the mean time. All whilst house renovations are going on. Just all a bit intensive. So every time I come back to this group, the prompts luring me in. I’m like no…no…must work. Stop getting distracted!
I gave in and wrote a story for Reedsy the other week though…hmm don’t know if I can post that here, presumably sacrilege! Apologies if so…but felt that I should exchange a story for a story.
I will join in again here soon though.
I just scoured the archives for your ‘Silence’ story and have saved it in a document to read later! Thought I should reply pre-emptively as the delay is seeming like a snub. Not intended! Thank you so much for this discussion. I want to read the story properly though, so will write my thoughts at a future date. Seems exactly the sort of format I continuously end up writing in too!
I keep procrastinating at the moment. Battling with the humidity and heat in a loft room, I feel like my brain is imploding. Partly where my ‘Roof Man’ story on Reedsy came from. My portable ACU just arrived but I do not have the correct tubing…wasted hours finding the right components, although I have a meeting / phonecall tomorrow to try to progress my business (if you can even call it that yet, it is in foetal form!) Procrastination on all fronts.
With writing my main problem is always deciding on perspective. Well and holding back the stream of consciousness spew! Weirdly I have been finding that that tendency seems to be lending itself well to screenplay writing. Exactly as you said before, your imagination and writing become like a cameraman’s perspective flying from one person to another. Which can be very tricky to convey through prose alone.
I only decided to start writing fiction again about a year ago, suffering from PTSD from doing History and Science degrees for over a decade. So I’m only just pondering out writer’s resources online and rediscovering my voice. But yes, the first novel that started pouring out of me is wholly Lovecraftian, spliced with Etruscan mythology. Other dimensions and dream sequences. All about inadvertently sharing someone else’s body or even several people co-controlling one person, whilst none of them are quite aware that the others are there at first….needless to say it does not lend itself readily to being clearly expressed!
Having that inner division is so interesting and there can be a lot of comedy in it too. But deciding whose perspective you are writing from is challenging. I started writing it as a third person narrative, that you later find out is being spoken by someone that was co-habiting the body of the person they are describing…! In first person there would be more immediacy of conflicting thoughts…but clearly indicating who is who, without the audience being able to hear the difference in voice, without telling them it is a different internal voice is tough stuff! I mean just trying to describe it here is impossible enough!
Thinking about it I should track down the script for ‘Being John Malkovich’ that might help me ha.
I have been working on comedy sketches recently (partly to lighten my thoughts from the dark recesses horror takes you to) and when inventing shot lists, that first person perspective our short stories seem to blurt out in, is actually exactly how you need to think as a Director…plus then all the flying about perspectives are more viable and easier to communicate because you can see it! With storyboards, what seems like chaos in writing suddenly makes very clear sense. I have been finding that slapstick is immensely difficult to sequence together though! I imagine fight scene choreography would be even more insane. Two scenarios which can never really summon the same laughter or awe in writing as they do visually and aurally. Timing is everything!
I have also been contemplating playing with some non-linear storytelling software. Multiple choice Goosebumps type scrawlings that lend themselves to game storylines. I always get carried away creating immense universes, most of which would never be explored as fully as they could be if pushed towards novels or films. I love the physicality of being there which games permit. The use of sound and music too. Oh it is a struggle to channel the creative thoughts in one direction. I’m just hoping that it will all fuse together one day!
Lovecraft games-wise ‘Call of Cthulhu’ the PC game is excellent! I have not played any of the games you listed (!) but have been intending to play them ha. Fallout 4 makes direct reference to Lovecraft. Pickman’s Gallery is involved but with ‘art’ made from dead people as opposed to paintings of other-worldy beings.
Well…in the course of writing this I am procrastinating! Must focus! Jot down the business notes in a vaguely concise manner…
But yes…I freely proffer to you my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org for future communiques. If this is easier? (Forgive the slightly pretentious address name but I am trying to create a wholly writing oriented hub to compartmentalise my chaos somehow, and that’s just what first popped into my head!) I feel bad if other people have alerts to all of these comments which are becoming increasingly diffuse and may not be of interest to them! Plus in these forums/fora or whatever the anglo latin bastardised plural is…I get confused where the messages are. Anyone else feel free to email me too if you do read this! Always enthusiastic to discuss creative writing!
Hope the contests beyond this one have lent themselves to interesting creations!
I must read through everyone’s stories and join in again soon. Be well!
All the Best,
Then, like Roy, I outfoxed!
Bravo to the winners! 👏🏽👏🏽
Personally, the vote was very close this round.
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