Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I've Seen It. And It's Seen Me

My training was to be – naturally but somehow reluctantly – followed by practice in recognising the... target.

Archie’s was the place – where else? Besides, Laughlin sustained it was best in semi-darkness, and the bar was much better than roaming the streets at night. We didn’t have long to wait. It was midday. Two men in suits came in and took seats at a table next to the dingy wall. I could see Laughlin cringe, his hands clutching the fork so hard, he started to bend it.

“Those two... Do you see?”

His voice was so low, I had to rely on reading his lips.

“See what, Laughlin?”

“Squint. It’ll come to you... “

“But what-”

“On their left shoulder. A vapour... an emanation...”

I shook my head, disappointed, apologetic. A waiter moved to take their order and, as he did so, for a while he blocked the dull light coming from the wall lamp.

Now!” Laughlin said, annoyed. “Now you must see it!”

“Calm down,” I whispered, not very calm myself. I narrowed my eyes, straining them, trying to see anything at all and, suddenly, I think I did. A greenish blur, a mist bearing the resemblance of an eerie face, seemingly emanating from the man’s shoulder; two eyes in it, almost luminous, like two elongated slits in a curtain of fog, a beak-like nose, no obvious mouth, a long narrow chin. Something that would appear on a moved photograph. I held my breath, appalled by the strangeness of this sight, by the cold alien malevolence I thought I could discern in those fluid features. And then I gasped, for the “double” had twisted and looked directly at me. Its mouth rounded, maybe forming a word of some sort. The next moment it was gone.

“You’ve seen it!” Laughlin shouted, with eagerness, making some heads in the bar turn to us.

“And it’s seen me...” I said, and gulped down my gin.

This is another excerpt from "Shadow on Your Shoulder", a short story. The first one was "Of a Bizarre Contraption."


Catvibe said...

Now I really want to read this story! It sounds weird and intriguing. I loved the image you created of the green fog creature trying to speak.

Sarah Hina said...

I love all the places you go in your writing. In your poetry, I often feel a kind of homecoming. In your prose, you often surprise me. :)

The switch at the end is wonderful--scary enough when we see something unworldly, but that it should acknowledge us is truly terrifying.

Fascinating story, Vesper...any chance we'll see any more? ;)

Marilyn Brant said...

I, too, love that slight twist at the end. You spiked a little fear in all of us, I think :). Evocative writing, Vesper!

the walking man said...

To an older reader like me the name of the bar caused distracting images of Archie Bunker's bar to come in unbidden.

That said Vesper,

Very tight prose and when combined with the other previous piece I must say that the bits and pieces of the two caused me to want to know more about the person they are trying to recover and what brought them to this point of? Searching for a door perhaps or looking to take a captive of their own for information or to trade maybe?

Whatever the answer is...you have certainly made me want to hear the rest of the story.

BernardL said...

An enticing word picture for sure.

Charles Gramlich said...

Ooh, I like that ending.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Absorbing first line! The setting is interesting - a bar downtown, midday, people having lunch, a drink, normal...right? Wrong! I like that! Makes the supernatural element that much more compelling in this ordinary backdrop.

Great storytelling! That last line is gooood! Love where you have taken this. ;)

Chris Eldin said...

Very creepy!! I love the ending, if it really is an ending. This is an excerpt, right?
What happens next?

Aine said...

I really want to read the rest of this... NOW!

pretty please?

laughingwolf said...

ooooo love it, v :D

reminds of the stuff clive barker writes

more, please....

Anonymous said...

I really like this! The language has a strong immediacy. A tight presence in the moment.

I love when language weaves the reality, breathes it, and doesn't overload or pull the reader away from the scene. Very well done!!

Miladysa said...



More please :D

Vesper said...

Thank you, Cat. I hope you can read it one day. :-)

Sarah, thank you so much for your words of appreciation. Scary enough when we see something unworldly, but that it should acknowledge us is truly terrifying. - I think of that often, I think it can relate to many areas where we seek knowledge.

Marilyn, thank you. I’m glad you liked this little fragment.

Mark, I should change it’s name then… :-) Thank you! Now, after choosing two excerpts from it, I’m not so sure I know the rest of the story myself. I thought it was finished – I’m much tempted to revisit it.

Thank you, Bernard.

Thank you, Charles.

Kaye, a normal setting should make scary things even more scary, because of the incursion of the darkness into what we’d thought to be a comfortable reality… Thank you!

Chris, thank you! It’s only an ending to this excerpt…

Aine, you’re so sweet! Thank you! I will give it to you to read, if you want to, but I think I have to rewrite it a bit first…

Thank you, LW! And now I have to read Clive Barker. :-) You made me read Lovecraft and I’m very grateful for that. :-)

Oh, Jason, thank you so much! There’s a precious, concise lesson in your comment – something we should always keep in mind when writing. Thank you, my friend!

Miladysa, I love your exclamation marks! :-) Thank you!!! :-)

L.A. Mitchell said...

Vesper...how delightfully creepy of you. Just when I think I have you figured out.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I cannot believe you're not on the NYTimes list :)

Anonymous said...

Hey, I've been a bad internet friend, not commenting here lately. Just saying hello. :)


K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Vesper, I have a Lemonade Award over at my place for you. If so desired, please swing by and take it home. :) Kaye

laughingwolf said...

sorry v, i never MAKE anyone do anything... merely SUGGEST :O lol

happy to hear you like lovecraft, i know barker will please you, too :)

i have clive linked, twice, on my page ;)

Karen said...

Hi, Vesper -- Just delivering the Lemonade Award --oops, I see K. has already given you to drink! Oh, well, come to my place for seconds.
I'll be back soon to read your post. Just making deliveries right now.

Karen said...

This is a real teaser with good, solid writing. More, please?

Vesper said...

L.A, what a delightful comment! :-) :-) :-) Thank you so much! :-)

Hello, Paul, no need to worry. You're welcome anytime and know that I don't consider you a bad internet friend even if you're not here that often. :-)

Kaye, thank you very much! :-)

LW, :-) :-) :-)! I'll check the links on your page.

Karen, thank you for the lemonade stand and for your kind comment. Both are much appreciated! :-)