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BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories

Started by BlackDragonSlayer, June 24, 2013, 01:57:33 AM

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BlackDragonSlayer

Halloween Horror Special 2021 part 3
The Bleakest Chambers of the Heart's Desire

Part 1: Photographs & Memories

     It is incredible, nay, horrific, what happens to a photo when it transforms from a photo of someone you love, to the photo of someone who has hurt you. It goes from a picture you look back on with fond memories, a sense of yearning nostalgia, and a sense of appreciation for the subject of the photo, to a repulsive, sickening object. It doesn't even have to be a photo you have taken yourself. No, any photo, simply the image or sight of the person, triggers a primal feeling of utter revulsion. 'How could I have ever cared for a person like this?' you ask yourself. But there is no good answer. It doesn't even have to be an egregious transgression that tore you apart. Simply the notion that there was something which destroyed the special bond you had, and that it may never be repaired. And if it can be repaired, that it may never be the same as it once was, because it hits you that they, or perhaps yourself, saw your relationship as something that could be severed in the first place. That they were ok to live with themselves after that. After they hurt you. And you lie awake, all these sleepless nights, wondering if what once was, but has since been tarnished, could ever resume the lustrous golden sheen it once displayed, if it could ever bring you the same joy it once had. And the days pass, and the years pass, and it still hasn't. All these sleepless nights.

     And you question yourself. 'They didn't want to admit fault,' you tell yourself, again and again, 'does that, perhaps, mean that I am actually the one at fault for the whole damn thing? Am I in the wrong and they're right, and I'm just to blind to see it?' The incessant questioning, over and over. Endlessly. Are they lying awake every night thinking the same sort of questions? So many nights of 'Maybe I should apologize; maybe...' maybe... they feel they're too deep into it to give it up, that somehow an admission of their part in the whole thing would hurt more after all this time. If they had just done it yesterday, a month ago, three years ago, it wouldn't have hurt as much. Is this hurting them as much as it's hurting you? But you'll never know that, because you can't ask them, because they won't let you ask them, and even if you did ask them, maybe they wouldn't even be honest with you, because they haven't always been honest with you before, haven't they? But honestly would really make things better for both of us, so why can't they be honest? Do they not want to be honest, or do they just not know they're not being honest? Are they not honest with you because they think of you as lesser? Why? Have they always thought of you as lesser, or did it start somewhere along the line? If so, then what caused that to happen? Was it something you did, or did they just... change? That's the big fear: that it's always been this way, that everything was wasted, and there's not even a chance to scramble to get everything back. You want to do anything to get it back, to put the whole burden of the fault on your shoulders—only yours and no one else's—so that you can hope to patch an ever-growing fissure. But you know that it can't ever really be mended unless both wielders of the guilt are willing to bear the load. You've always hurt yourself just to keep the peace, but keeping the peace came with a cost in the end. You wish you could read minds, so this whole thing could've been so easy. You thought you were always so in sync in the ways that it mattered, but in the end, you suppose you were only two lost souls with just enough tangled strings to hold you together for a fleeting moment, but never enough to bring you closer. But you want to do something about it. You've always wanted to do something about it, but you never have. And you'll do anything to make things better for both of you, even if you shouldn't, because they don't want to make things better.

     And nothing will ever change because you can't do anything, because no matter what the reality of the whole thing is, they don't want to change. People don't want to change, maybe... because it hurts. And is it even hurting you both the same way?


Part 2: He Sees a Ghost

     Denial.

     In the early evening just before sundown, as I walked down the sidewalk on the way home from work, I took in the stale, dry air of the city. People still called it "fresh air" despite the fact that the whole city was tinged with a rancid scent, as if just the fact of it being outside somehow made it better than inside. I've learned that people love to insist on things that aren't true, just because those little lies make them feel good. Familiarity is a strange thing, and while denial is no stranger to me, it still baffles me how people can take such joy in being wrong, because they despise the sting of being wrong. People want to feel good without effort. Effort, whether it be mental, physical, or otherwise, is pain.

     I know it's early, but I'm sure you've surmised by now that this is about you. I don't know why it matters though, because you'll probably never read this. Nonetheless, nothing I've said here should even be a surprise to you. Whether or not you were listening, I've probably said it all to you before. You know I have a sad tendency to be a bit of a broken record. I can't help myself.

     But back to the matter of you, I suppose, now that we've gone there. I don't always remember where I met people. Usually I'll have a general idea of the circumstances of our introduction, but not like you. I remember exactly where we first met, and what we said. It's a shame how the best of our memories are so often taken up—nay, stolen—by those who don't deserve such a lasting footprints in our head. On that note, I've always found it funny how the best way to forget someone who wronged you is to be wronged by someone else. What happened with you made me forget the person who wronged me before you, but I've never gotten over what you did to me, because unlike so many others, you actually cared about me. Maybe someone else will come along to replace you soon enough. Maybe it won't be as bad next time. One can hope.

     At the end of the day, I'm still asking myself the question: Where did things go wrong? Everything was good, until one day it suddenly wasn't any more. Things were fine until I started having your back. I was there for you when nobody else was, and you didn't like that. You treated me like shit because I told you what you needed to hear when you didn't want it. I didn't want to have to pick up the pieces afterward; I wanted to save you from being broken in the first place, but I guess you didn't want someone who respected you. You just wanted someone shiny. I've never been shiny, at least not for a long while.

********************

     I saw you at a coffee shop today. Imagine that should happen so soon after thinking about you again. Funny, I wasn't even there to get coffee. You know how I am. And later that day, I got a message from you. It's been, what, how long? A year, two years, five years? Really, that long? Fuck, feels like it's been decades. You think it's been too late? Why did you even wait this long to say anything? Hell, you wouldn't have even said anything if I hadn't seen you first, but you seemed friendly enough, and not just because you felt obligated to. You really did have your old vibrant warmth to you, like you genuinely meant what you told me. Like nothing had ever changed, and we had just happened to fall out of contact over the years by some big unfortunate circumstance outside of our own control. But let's not twist history; we both know that's not what happened, no matter how much you'd like to forget.

     Don't try and hide that it was your fault. I know you'd like to simply get away scot-free, without the burden of guilt to force you to feel uncomfortable for your actions. You'd like that, wouldn't you? I can't believe you never struck me as that kind of person while I knew you, but looking back now, it was all too apparent. I just gave you excuses you were all too quick to accept. I just let you get away with it. How could I have done such a thing?

     But it needs to be said—you chose to do this. You didn't just disconnect what we had, you took a hammer and made sure to smash whatever was holding on for dear life, until there was nothing left. I want to fix it, I've always been willing, I still want to fix it, but whatever we rebuild will never be the same thing that used to be there. The greatest tragedy of human life, I suppose, is that the longer you live, the more experience you get, but you need the experience the most at the time of your life you don't have it. And you can warn the new people all you want, but it doesn't really matter, until you've lived it yourself. Maybe if our souls of today could go back in time and inhabit our old bodies, then this never would've happened. We'd realize how petty the whole thing was and we'd laugh and go out for drinks and embrace each other and be merry. And the whole thing would be smoothed over by morning. And we'd go back home and live our lives and every so often we'd meet up again to have a damn good time. Just a bump in the road.

     It's been too long. We can't repair what we used to have. It's too late. I wish you had done this earlier. When I wanted to. I was ready, even if it hurt. Before the hurt and the pain really set in. Before the ties were severed completely, and rotted away to nothing. I really tried, because you and me? Nothing should have ever come between us.


Part 3: A Sad Sort of Epilogue

     Even as I lay here in bed, I'm still thinking about this morning. You know I can't help it.

     You had the gall to ask me how things had been.

     Let's say you and your roommate own a dog. The dog is old and in pain and needs to be put down. You tell your roommate you'll schedule the appointment for this Friday, but they say they're not ready emotionally and ask you to put it off until next Friday, so you do. Every day until then, you have to sit and listen to the dog whining and crying in agony. Every night you go to bed hoping it won't die between now and next Friday.

     The roommate was you, and the dog was all our problems we had to lay to rest, that we didn't because you weren't ready.

     So that's how it was to me, my love. That's how it was.

WE HOPE YOU ENJOYED YOUR HALLOWEEN
THE END
...until next year...
And the moral of the story: Quit while you're a head.

Fakemon Dex
NSM Sprite Thread
Compositions
Story Thread
The Dread Somber

BlackDragonSlayer

Also, a brief announcement. I can't say for certain, but this might be the last Halloween Horror Special for the foreseeable future. I'm trying to compile some of my stories into a book, along with a couple new ones, so if I find out how to self-publish it's possible that most of my writing efforts will go into writing for the efforts of publishing more books, in which case I'd want to make those collections comprised primarily of original stories rather than ones that have been previously released.

Thanks for all the support up until now. I really appreciate it. <3
And the moral of the story: Quit while you're a head.

Fakemon Dex
NSM Sprite Thread
Compositions
Story Thread
The Dread Somber

BlackDragonSlayer

Almost a year later and it's finally here!!!!! You can purchase my new book, The Dread Somber, as an e-book on Amazon now!!! Halloween Horror Special may be cancelled for now and the foreseeable future, but there are technically six new stories this year instead of the usual three, not to mention all the edited, cleaned-up versions of existing stories.

I just wanted to give a huge shout-out to the NinSheetMusic community (both registered users and forum lurkers) for supporting me up until this point. This short story thread is the most viewed thread* in the whole Story Telling subforum, with over 50,000 views, and every time I see that number, it absolutely fills me with joy. Like, I can't say it enough, thank you all for inspiring me to keep writing. I hope to keep contributing short stories here in the future, but I imagine a lot of my creative output will be focused on either making more stories for another collection, or perhaps a full-length novel (I already have a great surreal existential horror idea I'm interested in pursuing on that front).

Sooooo... to wrap things up... If you like what you've read up until this point... consider buying my book? ;)



*Not named "The Great NSM Pokemon Adventure! Discussion," but seriously, that's a high bar to beat :P
And the moral of the story: Quit while you're a head.

Fakemon Dex
NSM Sprite Thread
Compositions
Story Thread
The Dread Somber

BlackDragonSlayer

Just a heads up to anyone interested that within the next few days, I'll be posting a BRAND NEW story here :o It's a bit more of a surreal comedy (the premise is pretty silly when you think about it and nothing really awful happens except the cancellation of a beloved TV gameshow) than full-on "horror," and as such, I'm not planning on publishing it in any future collections (for the forseable future, at least); nonetheless, I still wanted to share it!!! The story is fully written as of now, and just needs to be edited up a bit before I post it.

Also, this thread is at 70,000+ views as of now :o :o :o Hopefully we can get it to 90,000+ by October 2024? ;)
And the moral of the story: Quit while you're a head.

Fakemon Dex
NSM Sprite Thread
Compositions
Story Thread
The Dread Somber

BlackDragonSlayer

Everybody Wants to be on Wheel of Fortune

     Even though it had just started, the first taping of the day was already going smoothly. Nervous as the episode's three contestants were, Pat Sajak always had a way of easing the tension and getting everybody to feel comfortable loosening up on the show. For people who had never been on a gameshow before, let alone have any sort of experience performing in front of large crowds, such an event can be an overwhelming ordeal; but the showrunners and all the cast and crew had plenty of practice dealing with such things, and by this point of the show's storied history, every aspect of production was running like a well-oiled machine. There had been a few incidents here and there, sure, but overall, most of them hadn't messed things up too badly. If anything, some of the more awkward incidents could be spun into memorable TV moments that kept fans talking about them even years later. People liked funny answers, and including the occasional gaffe kept the show relatable to the audience—anybody could be on Wheel of Fortune!

     The contestants had just finished answering the first toss-up puzzle. Pat Sajak made his way over to interview the first contestant, the one who had successfully answered the toss-up. He asked his usual questions to the contestant, but just as she was about to answer, there was a sudden outburst from the contestant on the far right. It started with the sound of fists slamming against the countertop. The sound picked up clearly on the recording. The cameraman couldn't help but turn the camera to see what was going on—and everyone else on the stage and in the audience did so as well.

     The man was suddenly seething with rage out of nowhere.

     "SHIT! FUCK! SHIT! ASSHOLES!" The man was shaking and sweating profusely, his face twisting as a deep scowl grew on it. As he continued to slam his fists against the counter, his hands began to bleed.

     For the moment, it didn't seem like his rage was directed at any one person in particular, but Pat Sajak and the other contestants had already started backing away. Vanna White simply stood by the far side of the board, blinking incredulously. It didn't take long for security to show up and approach the man. He seemingly didn't react to their presence, continuing to shout obscenities and smash his increasingly-damaged hands against the surface. As the guards grabbed the man and began escorting him away from the stage, he continued to not react other than continuing his bizarre outburst as best he could under the circumstances, shouting out and flailing his arms in a downward smashing movement. He was not quite making any attempts to break free of the guards' grip, but rather, was simply maintaining the same gestures he had already been doing.

     "FUCKING ASSHOLES!" That's the last thing anyone heard from him before he was safely away from the stage.

     Pat Sajak slowly re-approached the stage, but the other contestants remained standing toward the back of the set, away from the stage. He turned toward the audience and shrugged.

     "Well, looks like it's as good a time as any for a commercial break!"

     The audience laughed—despite the tense situation that had just unfolded, or perhaps because of it.


********************

     Pat Sajak took quick strides toward the producer. It would take a little while to clean up the area, but they fully intended to continue filming today; after all, they kept backup contestants around for a reason. Sure, everybody would be a bit shaken up, but they had a schedule to keep—and in a way, continuing to roll would reassure people that everything was ok and back to normal.

     "What the hell was that about?" Sajak snapped, equal parts annoyed and unsettled, "I thought you were supposed to vet these guys before you let them on the show?"

     The show had its first share of incidents in the past, but never quite this concerning before.

     The producer stammered. "Uh, um... well, we do. B-but we can't predict everything! Maybe that guy had a medical incident or something, I dunno; he's still getting checked out. Off the set, of course." The producer paused for a bit, before sending the ball back to Sajak's court. "Just do your thing and keep people calm. Keep them laughing. That's what you're here for."

********************

     Sure enough, filming resumed before too long had passed. The first contestant had decided to drop out for the day as well—and who could blame her? With two new contestants fresh and ready to go, it wasn't long before the taping was well underway once more. And this time, unlike the day's earlier incident, the first toss-up and contestant interviews went well with no interruption whatsoever. The second toss-up had started; as letters were being added to the board, one by one, the middle contestant hit her buzzer to try and give an answer—but before she could get a single word out, there was a piercing groan of anguish from the contestant on the left.

     "GODDAMN SHIT! FUCKING HELL, HOLY SHIT!" The contestant on the left was crying out, half anger and half pain. One hand was clutched to her stomach, and the other, pounding down repeatedly on the countertop.

     This time, security was right on it. They gently guided the contestant away from the stage. She let out one last shout.

     "GODDAMN YOU! SHIT!"

     Letters continued to pop up on the game board as she was led away. An awkward silence permeated the whole set. The camera panned to Pat Sajak, a blank expression on his face, his mouth just slightly agape. He took a moment to compose himself, then slowly turned toward the camera, then the audience.

     Pat Sajak took a step toward the audience and threw his hands up. "Wheel of Fortune, everybody!"

     There was uproarious laughter.

********************

     Needless to say, they did not proceed with filming that day. Everyone present was asked to sign an additional NDA to make absolutely sure that word of the incident didn't leak prematurely. There would be a brief investigation to make sure everything about the set and the stage was safe to keep filming. If the investigation wrapped up in time and gave everything a clean pass, they would resume filming the next day with a brand new audience and three new contestants. They would continue like normal, assuming everything that happened today was just a massive, horrible fluke, and try to let the day's incidents sink away into memory. In time, this would all become just another funny footnote to share from the show's history.

     To the relief of some of the crew, and to the worry of others, all the inspections came back perfectly clear. From all appearances, it seemed as if there was nothing wrong with the set or any of the equipment that might be causing people to act this way. They would continue filming tomorrow; Pat and Vanna were certainly up for the task.

********************

     Another day of filming. From how everyone was acting, most of all Pat Sajak himself, you could never tell what had happened here just the day before. He was cracking jokes with the audience and the contestants before the cameras even started rolling. As the crew wrapped up final preparations, the signal was given for everyone to take their places.

     Just as the first toss-up puzzle was about to commence, the sound of fists slamming against a hard surface echoed throughout the set. Everyone's gaze was locked on the middle contestant, who was slamming both her fists against the countertop. Her face was firmly contorted in an expression of rage.

     "IDIOTS! FUCKING DAMN STUPID IDIOTS! SHIT!"

     But it was not over. Almost immediately after her outburst began, the contestant on the left began joining her. He was slamming one of his hands against the counter, while stomping one of his feet up and down as hard as he could against the ground. He was breathing heavily as an angry expression overtook his face.

     "STUPID ASSHOLES! SHIT! DAMN YOU ALL!"

********************

     They did not film the next day, nor the day after that. After a press release briefly—and vaguely—describing a series of "incidents" that had disrupted filming, the studio put out an announcement sharing plans for a hiatus of filming until they could decide on alternative arrangements and figure out how to proceed.

     Right now, most everybody on the team was thinking that the best course of action was to find a new studio to film in, rebuild the set from scratch, and bring in brand new equipment and as many new crew members as they could manage to replace. They didn't have a grudge against any of the old crew members—the studio execs were simply panicked and trying their best to eliminate any potential cause (no matter how unlikely) behind the repeated outbursts. They needed to nip this problem in the bud before it tanked the show completely. In the meantime, the list of potential contestants was purged, as a precaution, and people were asked to reapply in the meantime.

     Weeks passed, and the set was rebuilt in record time. As the team was planning to once more resume filming, they had just barely been able to make all the necessary replacements in time—this included giving the new set a fresh new design compared to the old one. After waiting an extra few weeks to make sure all the contestant candidates were of sound mind and health, they were ready to resume filming of the show. Though some worried that the cause of the initial incidents still hadn't been identified, most of the team reassured (or perhaps desperately convinced) themselves that it was simply a freak case that had unintentionally triggered a brief wave of mass hysteria. They were dead set on going forward. There was, after all, a lot of money and reputation on the line; an iconic, long-running show like Wheel of Fortune couldn't die like this, no!

     And so, days after another public announcement celebrating the long-awaited return, Wheel of Fortune resumed filming. On the day of the first taping, the outside area of the new studio was host to a party to commemorate the occasion. Many celebrity guests were invited, but most importantly, the contestants and audience members were not informed of the ongoing event—in fact, they were all informed that today was not the first taping since the official opening of the new set, but that they had already taped several episodes' worth of games in preparation for the upcoming new season; in that way, they could be sure there was no additional pressure placed on anyone involved.

     Just like before, everything went well at first—but in the middle of the second puzzle, immediately after one of the contestants called out a letter and they appeared on the board, it happened again. Another contestant, along with an audience member, had a complete breakdown and began the same bizarre behavior that had sparked this whole fiasco in the first place. It was completely unbelievable.

     For all the show's cast, crew, and team members, this embarrassing incident was beyond infuriating!!! To make matters worse, the full details about the earlier incidents would soon leak to the public, completely out of the control of the show or any of its PR people. Nonetheless, after the most recent debacle, they continued to press forward and attempt to keep filming new episodes of the show. But it was an impossible task—no matter what, someone, sometimes SEVERAL people, would break out in the horrific outbursts, completely halting any sort of progress they tried to make. It kept happening over and over again with no apparent cause.

     As it continued to occur with no signs of stopping, it was clear that filming new episodes of Wheel of Fortune would be a Herculean—no,  impossible—task. Before long, production ground to a halt, and soon, was discontinued entirely.

     No one ever figured out what triggered the outbreak in the first place. As far as anyone could tell, everyone involved was normal and completely healthy, both before and after this unfortunate series of events. None of them ever did such a thing ever again. Perhaps, dear reader, we may never know the true cause...
And the moral of the story: Quit while you're a head.

Fakemon Dex
NSM Sprite Thread
Compositions
Story Thread
The Dread Somber

BlackDragonSlayer

To celebrate the start of Spooky Season, The Dread Somber is going to be on discount from today until the 9th (3rd to the 10th for UK peeps)!!! Unfortunately Amazon doesn't allow for longer sales, or else I'd do it for the whole month.
And the moral of the story: Quit while you're a head.

Fakemon Dex
NSM Sprite Thread
Compositions
Story Thread
The Dread Somber

BlackDragonSlayer

When the Dogs Go Out

     It's never easy losing a parent at a young age. It's been difficult for all of us for different reasons—for me, I was only 6 years old when my dad died, so every day since then I've had to grapple with feeling like I missed out on the chance to really get to know him; for my mom, she's had to pick up the slack and work extra hard to make sure we get by. Sometimes, she's gone on her work trips for days at a time. At first, it was really difficult for me to deal with, especially because we live in a rural area. When things first happened, we would have a neighbor or two come over every so often to make sure I was cared for, and my grandparents came out for a couple months, but we all knew those things couldn't keep going on forever.

     On my seventh birthday, my mom got me a big Golden Retriever puppy—we named her "Moxie." Ever since then, things have gotten easier bit by bit. It's not the same, but having Moxie to keep me company has made the time alone more bearable.

     There's one piece of advice that mom told me to follow that's always stuck with me through the years. "Try not to let Moxie out past sunset," she would tell me, "and if you hear the neighborhood dogs all barking and howling as loud as they can, definitely don't let her out, no matter what. And don't go outside if you don't absolutely have to." The first time she told me, I asked her why. She shrugged her shoulders. "I don't quite know, but everybody in the area tells me it's a bad omen."

     Years passed, and Moxie and I endured many of mom's work trips together. And for a time, I followed mom's superstitious advice faithfully, without hesitation, until one day...

     Mom was getting ready to leave for another one of her work trips. Every time she leaves, I ask her why she has to leave for so long, and every time, she just says that she needs to work double time so we can save up enough money to move closer to relatives.

     That was that, and she left. I let Moxie outside in the morning, went to school like normal, and got home, let Moxie outside another time, then had some dinner. The day continued to pass as normal, and before long it was dark outside. After finishing the homework I had, Moxie and I were chilling on the sofa watching TV. The time slipped away, and soon, it was almost midnight.

     "C'mon Moxie, time for bed."

     I stretched as I stood up off the sofa. Whenever mom wasn't home, it was tradition for Moxie to sleep by my bed.

     Moxie whined and weakly wagged her tail.

     "What's wrong, girl?"

     She looked toward the door, as she did whenever she really had to go outside. I paused, hesitating; I remembered mom's words of advice. Certainly things wouldn't be too bad as long as I let Moxie back in as soon as possible?

     I headed over to the door, Moxie right at my heels. Right as I unlocked the door and moved my hand over to the handle, I paused for just a brief moment, thinking I had heard something. I listened in more closely: it was the sound of barking and howling coming from all the other dogs in the neighborhood. I stopped dead in my tracks.

     I looked back and forth between the door and Moxie. She looked up at me pitifully, tapping her paws on the floor in anticipation. It really, really looked like she needed to go outside. Certainly it wouldn't hurt if she went out for just a quick moment?

     My hand gripped the handle. "Ok girl, promise you'll go out and come right back in?"

     Moxie whined.

     "Ok girl."

     With one last moment of hesitation, I opened the door. Moxie darted out. I only closed the door for a brief moment, barely even a minute, but it felt like forever. As soon as I thought Moxie had enough time to do her business, I opened the door again.

     "Moxie!" I shouted, "Come on in, girl!!!"

     Nothing.

     "Moxie, come here!!!"

     The barking and howling had stopped. Was that a good thing...?

     A few more moments passed without any sign or trace of Moxie. Then, I saw her silhouette appear out of the darkness, and Moxie walked into the dim glow of the backyard light. As quickly as she had gone out, she darted back inside; immediately, I closed the door behind her once more. However, instead of making her way to my bedroom, as she usually did, she made a beeline for her dog pillow and curled up onto her bed.

     "Moxie...?"

     The dog looked up, letting out a quick whine, and right away, I knew: this was not the Moxie I know and love. There was something very wrong in her eyes that told me.

WE HOPE YOU ENJOYED YOUR HALLOWEEN
And the moral of the story: Quit while you're a head.

Fakemon Dex
NSM Sprite Thread
Compositions
Story Thread
The Dread Somber