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ainsz

Sandhill Lake

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ainsz

Okay new story. I'll post in spaced out parts so not to carry on with no one reading. As always, feedback is everything. :^:

Chapter One

Peter looked across the lake as he took a pause to catch his breath. With his hands on his knees, a shiver ran through his back as he watched the vapour exit his mouth. Like deja vu, the setting, the shiver and the cold, he repeated the act just like every other night. In the past, Sandhill Lake usually froze up this time of year. Luckily for Pete, the lake had withstood the test of winter. The water so flat and still, the moonlight projected the night sky in perfect clarity. Pete looked back up and to his old friend and nodded.

 

“You got his legs?”

 

His friend didn't speak, just bent down and took hold of the ankles. Pete held on to the wrists and the two began swaying the carcass.

 

“On three, one, two, three!.”

 

The body flew from there hands and crashed into the lake. Crows flew from their nests and the violent ripples through the water erased the stars. The two left each other without speaking.

The town had gotten quieter since the start of autumn. Blockades of tall, grey flats were empty of their rooms and stray dogs and stray tramps were a recent memory. The town was never idyllic, only now, it's new onset of desolation had given it some character. Before the disappearances, there wasn't one certain distinction you could make of the town, except mundane. It had always been grey, but never this dark.

A short walk from the lake and Pete had returned home. A nineteenth century terraced house, fit for two people, had once took custom to four. Opening the back door, into the kitchen, Pete could see into the next room, two legs stretched and crossed from the right, from behind the living room doorway. Pete walked up to the doorway and looked to the television, mounted on the wall on his left where looping plots of soap operas would play at a constant. Easing his sight to the right, Pete followed the crossed legs from the scratched wooden floor, up to the side of his Mother's head as her body lay slouched across the sofa. The living room light was set low on the dimmer switch which gave off a constant neon buzz, perfectly audible against the muttering T.V.

“Out late again, Pete.”

 

That wasn’t a question. Her perpetual sarcastic rhetoric infuriated Pete, as much as he hated to admit it, especially to her. She didn't move her head, not even her eyes from the T.V. to speak. Never drawing her attention from her daily dose, it was as if she had already decided what to say for any inevitable moment. Like reading from a script she wrote herself, she would speak the lines probably not even aware and her self would to continue watch from her bubble.

 

“I was getting worried, I know you don't believe me. You always loved your Father more than me. After everything I –.”

 

She stopped in a stutter. Pete determined himself to stare blankly at the the corner of the T.V, trying his best not to listen. She reeled her legs back to a bent a position, knocking a half empty mug of cold tea as she did. She instantly became infuriated with the mug and screamed inaudible cursing as Pete threw his shoes from his feet, into the stairway cupboard and crept upstairs.

 

“That's it, just f*ck off upstairs! Don't talk to your Mother like normal kids do! No respect, no discipline! You're just like your Father!”

Pete entered his room, thoughts of his late Father in his head. Her yelling carried on, minutes after he had closed his door. The walls were thin, some even hollow and all sounds in the house would find his room. He jammed a small knife into a bare light switch, rummaging the blade against the metal plates inside that gently sparked and finally stuck the knife in position to turn on the light. He slumped over his bed, laid out on his back, with his arms wide. He tried to drown out her bellows with his own thoughts, something to catch his attention and distract him from her. All that came up were thoughts leading back to his Mother. He handed his pocket and pulled out a pouch of tobacco, and rolled himself a cigarette. Sparking up, he loaded up his own mindless entertainment, video games. At one time, games served as escapism but as he had grown up and gained self awareness, that was a lost privilege. Now they were just a transition to the next day, but at least there was noise. He pondered more on his Father, he was good for a laugh and a drink. But all the same was he the first to go. Despite who he was, he enjoyed his Father's company. He had entertaining stories and a cold sense of humour he shared with Pete. Though his timid devotion to Pete's Mother inevitably lead for him and Pete to clash. Pete sat on his bed with a stiff, glum face with his controller in hand. He was numb to any emotion, so much that by now, he couldn't distinguish or name what he was feeling in any case – most times, nothing. Happiness was a fallacy he was too afraid to fall for, anger and sadness was a futility he wouldn't stoop to.

-

Edited by ainsz

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Ziggy455

Make sure that you space your dialogue, as it makes it much easier to read when everything is clumped together like it is.

 


Peter looked across the lake as he took a pause to catch his breath. With his hands on his knees, a shiver ran through his back as he watched the vapour exit his mouth. Like deja vu, the setting, the shiver and the cold, he repeated the act just like every other night. In the past, Sandhill Lake usually froze up this time of year. Luckily for Pete, the lake had withstood the test of winter. The water so flat and still, the moonlight projected the night sky in perfect clarity. Pete looked back up and to his old friend and nodded.

“You got his legs?”

His friend didn't speak, just bent down and took hold of the ankles. Pete held on to the wrists and the two began swaying the carcass.

“On three, one, two, three!.”

The body flew from there hands and crashed into the lake. Crows flew from their nests and the violent ripples through the water erased the stars. The two left each other without speaking.

 

 

 

 

I quoted the change because I wanted to say something about this opening paragraph and dialogue. I love it. It's so f*cking smooth; a vidid image of cold, flat water with the moon. You reeled me in with this beautiful imagery and then knocked it out the f*cking park with that single line. "You got his legs?"

 

I was like sh*t, this just got interesting. Good job with that, it's a brilliant hook.

 

Ther'es a few little spelling errors and stuff that a second read-through would fix. I like the setup, and your characters are forming with their own mannerisms and attitudes. It's good; it's got potential. I like its originality, and it feels like the characters cut a little close to home for me.

 

I want to see what this story is about. Keep posting. Just make sure to read through your work, and polish it properly and present it clearly because you can lose readers just on that alone. Upload more and I'll go much more in depth for you.

Edited by Ziggy455

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ainsz

Thanks a lot Ziggy. A large part of this was me trying to make the reading flow nicely so that's good to hear. About the dialogue, I always followed the 'new speaker, new line' rule. Either way, if making a new para. for each quotation makes for easier reading, I'll alter it.

-

 

Pete had slowly diminished any care for his own presence or being. His attire was whatever fitted comfortably. He never had an eye for fashion, but mere presentation was no longer a concern. His room floor was littered with whatever he left there last, along with boards and pieces of a flimsy chest of drawers his Mother had in the past, disassembled and thrown part by part at him in one of her fits. Pete wouldn't ever fight back against his Mother; being how he was, he would simply sit and stare away, waiting for her to finish up. He was stuck between a hate and guilt relationship with her, something that lingered paradoxically in his head and something that he rested upon in the middle.

 

He sat numbingly thumbing the control pad when he saw the yellow lines light up the gaps around the door. The sound of creaking steps followed and two shadows stood by the door. She stayed still for around ten seconds before pulling the brass handle and entering his room. Pete didn't look, just remained facing the T.V. Screen.

 

“Been smoking in here.” Pete remained silent. “Don't ignore me, Peter.”

 

Pete gave a quick glance at her and reverted to stare back at the paused game. She stood at the bottom of his bed, resting her hands on her hips. The landing light behind her radiated an intense, yellow outline of her snaking, curly thatch.

 

“Well, have you!”

 

“No.” He didn't lie in order to hide the fact. He lied because – why not?

 

“Don't lie, I can smell the smoke, I could smell it coming up the stairs!” Her voice began it's typical raise. “You've got nothing to say.”

 

Pete stayed quiet and sat back against the wall. “Look at me when I'm talking to you!” Pete remained disobedient. “Peter!”

 

She snatched his controller from his hands. “What have I said about smoking in your bedroom.”

 

“Go away.” Peter muttered.

 

“Don't tell me what to do in my own house, I own this house, I tell you what to do!”

 

She threw the controller down on to the floor and Pete watched as it bounced back up. Landing once more on the hard laminate, the plastic casing crippled and cracked and small chunks of plastic pinged against the walls.

 

Pete still seated, with his head locked downward and his chin touching his chest responded with a monotone mutter. “You're a f*cking psycho.”

 

Her eyes raised, as did her upper lip, exposing her teeth like a rabid dog.

 

“Psycho! I'll show you f*cking psycho!"

 

She stepped over the drawers and kicked over the computer tower and then reached over his bed and wrenched one hand over his mouth, digging her fingers and thumb in to his cheeks.

 

“Don't call me a psycho, you're a f*cking psycho! I'm your f*cking Mother!”

 

Spitting and yelling in to his face, pounding it up and down in to his pillow to the beat of her screeching words. Her face now a roasted red, she let go and began stamping around the room, trying to open some argument she was looking for. Pete stayed passive towards her. All urges to retaliate dissolved over and over and his body rattled more with each of her stamps. He tried to sat back up again and tried to keep still, though he couldn't stop the tremors running through his arms and his back. It was either fear or anger trying to release, though slowly, he was cooling.

 

She seemingly gave up and left for her own bedroom and then proceeded to continue by talking to herself – she called it thinking aloud. Up and down, her voice altered in pitch, verifying to herself what she was thinking. Pete didn't fully understand it, but somehow, she must have got some satisfaction from hearing her own thoughts put into a head to mouth conversation. While the cynic in him told him it was to carry on the torment on him, making him hear. With the doors shut and all the lights out but his, he couldn't make out what she was saying, he could only hear her continuous drone that would end without him noticing as it would become part of the ambience. He lifted his computer tower, the front and left side panel now loose, as well as one of the fans no longer spinning. Another vial of anger or despair bottled up inside him, he could feel it like a surge racing through him. His heart would often be on edge, spontaneously pounding, sometimes aching – exciting the rest of his body into a shaking mess. He could only wish for it to be a heart attack.

 

He yanked out the knife from his busted light switch and lay under the glow of the T.V. He wasn't afraid of the dark, but like a child who was, Pete couldn't stand complete silence. The 24 hour news channel, turned down, was almost too good a convenience for Pete. The following morning, a thick, still fog had taken over the town. One could only a see a few metres across the floor, while a fuzzy grey was all that surrounded. Only darkened silhouettes gave an indicator for what lied ahead. The temperature had dropped even further. Now into late November or early December; Pete feared for the lake's condition. Putting on an extra shirt under his woollen, tattered coat, an extra pair of socks and a pair of thin gloves; he went downstairs to put on his mangy trainers. Closing the cupboard door, he heard a plate clang from in the kitchen. He looked inside, where his Mother faced the wall, side stepping from one end of the side board, to the sink – over and over.

 

“Going out again, are you.”

 

Pete walked to the door and pulled the handle. She remained in her loop, not once facing any other way.

 

“Don't expect any dinner. Why should I cook for you, when you stay out all day – not speaking a word to me. If your Father was stood here, you'd talk to him.”

 

Pete pulled the door open . “I'll see you later.” Closing it behind him.

 

With Pete outside, his Mother started shouting to herself, though muffled to Pete, it was still as hard to ignore. Glad to be out of earshot and on to the street, Pete started the short trek to the lake. All around was masked by the dense grey. Pete could only navigate towards the lake from memory. He had reached the tower blocks, which now appeared as tall, black obelisks, only the tip faded to infinity. Between them where Pete walked, laid a barren field. The grass crunched under his soles and his socks took on a cold dampness. He stopped to take each trainer off one at a time to pull the tips of his socks away from his toes, in away to stop the wet getting to skin. While putting his second trainer back on, he heard grass crunching from nearby. He stayed still, trying to decipher where it came from. The subtle crumbling felt like it circled him. His deprived sense of sight and his now muddled sense of hearing disoriented Pete. He started to walk forward again when, trying to off-put any drastic thinking. A blackness flashed right by him. Not sure if his mind was acting on his anticipation, he surveyed his tiny cone of visibility for another. Once again, not sure if his eyes were tormenting him, another dark figure flickers in and out of sight. Not wanting to call out, he took it in his stride and finally made it to other side of the field.

 

Just across the street from there was the entrance to Sandhill Lake. A large Iron archway spelled the name in a faded golden paint, embossed over the flaking, dark green, metal banner. Pete stepped on to the clay like, pebbled path that looped around the pond and approached the water. Cautious to not step too far, he crept up to where the reeds protruded through the fog and knelt down to look closer at the dank pool. Somehow, it still hadn't frozen, further confirmed by a trickling sound that made a ripple travel under Pete's eyes. It could have been a duck, though Pete hadn't seen one since Summer ended. He stood up to look around, though all he could see were the blackened tree trunks leading up to the dark blotches in the fog above. The sound of crumbling came from behind, he pivoted around and and saw a faded, dark figure grow closer and sharper. Pete moved one leg back, braising himself. The pale face came into view and Pete instantly recognised his old friend from the night before. He returned to calm, although perplexed why he too had returned. His friend stood close to him, being taller - he looked down to Pete's eyes.

 

“You shouldn't be here, you need to leave.”

 

Pete chuckled at his request. “Why are you here?”

 

His friend faced him in a serious manner. ”This is where I stay now. You however are not supposed to be here.”

 

More confusing to Pete was the build up of tears in his friends eyes and his head stiffening as he withheld any further emotion.

 

“Now go. Finish what you started.”

 

Pete stood still in brief moment of apprehension, hoping to gain more of an explanation, but obliged with a quick sigh. He left his sight without a goodbye, while his old friend stayed stood with his head locked, frozen in his pose. Pete, back on the street rolled up a cigarette and continued on his supposed quest.

-

Edited by ainsz

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ainsz

I've gone over the first two posts, altering them. Mainly the second post which had a bit of a re-write in some bits. Here's the next part!

-

Stood on a street corner, the smoke he exhaled quickly faded into the loitering fog. A distorted orb glowed from high up on the grey, doing very little to bring daylight at high noon. As Pete stood still, the darkness and the fog appeared to close in. The trick of they eye intensified and soon, Pete could no longer ignore it. His breathing quickened, churning more smoke into the fog and gradually he felt shorter on oxygen. His concentration faltering, he saw the grey that surrounded him the burning smoke clogging his lungs and more and more of it he breathed in. He choked on his disillusion and gasped trying to catch his breath. The onset of claustrophobia pervaded him and his heart accelerated, releasing tremors through his body and his hands. He started moving and stepped back on to the field, showing himself that he could move through the smoke. However the sense of movement dampened as the grey remained the same where ever he walked. Moving faster, he looked at the grounded, watching blades of grass and pebbles whiz by his feet. The passing image helped break the illusion, though he was reminded of the endless void around him.. The shaking now immense, his breathing colliding against his dry throat and now a scaling black was spreading over his vision. He'd soon have a panic attack if he didn't find a place to calm himself. He changed direction to hit the wall of the tower block on his left and scaled along it like a rat scurrying in cover. He pressed his handed against the grey pebble-dashing with each stumbling step he took.

 

He approached a break in the wall and found a passage way that went underneath the building. Inside was a greatly increased clarity. A chain of of overhead lights were wired along the concrete ceiling and around him was noise again as the acoustics amplified his every action. He sat on the patterned brick floor and rested his back on the jagged wall and slowed his breathing. His senses returned to normal and soon his heart relaxed. His cigarette, still between his fingers had gone out – he sparked up once again and took a moment to rest. The lights calmly hummed besides one, further down the row of lamps that gave a distracting, stuttering spark sound. The light violently flashed on and off, destroying the tranquillity of the piss-hole Pete sat in. He looked down the corridor and saw a speck moving up and down, under the faulty light. He walked over and stopped under it's temperamental gaze. He looked up at the grimy plastic casing that had smashed off and to Pete's astonishment – a moth was fluttering back and forth to the bulb. He stared for at this rare encounter, reaching his hand up to trying and catch it. Breaking his immersion, an echoed grunt came from further in the passageway. The ginnel continued around a left-hand corner and further down, another right-hand corner. Not wanting to call out, Pete crept around the the first corner where he found more life scurrying along the walls. A rat ran between his trainers and above his head, a large spider rested at the centre of a vast web, glued into the corner of the ceiling – along which flies and other darting insects buzzed under the lamps. Nearing the next corner, a rasped cough came from around the second corner. Pete leaned into the wall to see around the corner where a scruffy looking man stood a few metres down, against the left side. Gathered around him were an assortment of animals. In a cage was a grey rabbit; a cat purred against his shins, while sat to attention in front of him was a German shepherd and finally, slipping through the man's grasp was thin, green snake.

 

The man wore a beaten, brown coat that hung over his punctured jeans. The collar of his coat partially covered his the grey stubble lined the folds of his face, while over the collar and covering his ears, dangled the straws from his head. To Pete, he almost looked like Iggy Pop.

 

“It's all right son, you can come out from behind there.” His gravelly voice called out. Pete emerged from the corner and approached the man.

 

“Err, hello.” Pete looked around, bewildered by the scene.

 

“Hello son. You want to hold him?” The man lightly reached his hands out, offering the snake.

 

“Oh, err no thanks.”

 

“He doesn't bite. He's calm, relaxed and content.”

 

“What is all this?”

 

“This in my hands, is a grass snake, called him Nigel. Down here is Hicks, in the cage is Quentin and my Alsation, Trevor.” The man retained an eerie smile as he spoke.

 

“I mean, what are you doing with all this?” Pete stroked behind the dog's ear.

 

“Well, since this Town's gone to the ghosts, I've been trying to collect and protect all I can find. I see you're travelling alone.” Pete gave a disinterested nod. “Here! I bet you forgot this one!”

 

The man bent down and grabbed a silver, portable radio from the side of his shoes and turned the power dial to full volume.

 

“I've been carrying this bad boy with me since the late eighties. Thanks to what's happened the past few months, it doesn't play radio radio any more but luckily I still got my cassettes to play!”

 

He slotted the play button in and instantly Pete recognised the opening guitar strings. A strong sense of nostalgia ran through him and a feeling of something else Pete threw off. Still, Pete couldn't help nod his head to the beat.

 

“Ah, you do remember it then. You remember the words as well?” The man started to sing along. “The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz and the sky – with no clouds. The heat was hot and the ground was dry; but the air was full of sound.”

 

He stopped to let the chorus play and then cut it short with an erratic press of the stop button. “I mean, it's just a bunch of American hippy bullsh*t really – but it might just mean something to you, son.” Pete remained quiet, he had nothing to respond with.

 

“What's your name son?”

 

“It's Pete --” The man stopped him.

 

“Well, whatever it does mean to you, you're not getting it.”

 

The man pulled a tin from his pocket and pulled out a roll up and offered one to Pete. “Cigarette?” Pete took one and lit up.

 

“Well, son you can leave now. Keep making your nightly visits, I'll be watching.”

 

The cat had still caught Pete's tongue, despite him wondering how he knew of Pete. He simply nodded again and left through the other end of the passageway. Back out, in the lifeless fog again; Pete trudged through blinding grey and made his way home. Opening the door, he saw his Mother slouched in her usual position, in front of the T.V. An empty plate rested on her knees – her improvised dining table. Pete searched through the kitchen cupboard and took a handful of crisps and filled his pockets. Before he could leave the house again, his Mother spoke up.

 

“Emptying my cupboards again are you.” He stopped with a frustrated sigh. “You know, an ungrateful twat like you doesn't deserve to eat from my kitchen. And still, I'm going to sit here and let you eat what you've taken. I know where I've gone wrong, I've spoilt you haven't I.”

 

He left the house again before he could let her continue.

 

He took a half hour walk from his neighbourhood and arrived at at 1960's fashioned semi detached house. On the right, in the upstairs window, closed curtains glowed a muted yellow from a light. He tried his hand at the copper handle on the wooden front door. It was locked as was the gate to the back garden. He climbed over shaky wooden fence that was laden with overgrown plants leapt in to the the back garden. The yard was littered with junk. The grey slab patio was cracked throughout with smashed plant pots tipped over and a dog kennel that had fallen through. Hedge trimmers, rakes, toolboxes and a wheelbarrow were spread across the untreated soil, while a greenhouse was only made up of it's rusted, metal frame. The door to the back of the house was missing from it's frame where inside, the kitchen was bare of any decoration. Screw holes and square outlines where cupboards and sideboards once stood, scarred the Bare walls where now only wires and pipes ran along the rotted paster to the naked sink. The wooden ceiling frames were exposed and dust fell from the planks as distorted banging came from upstairs. The bare, chipped and potted concrete floor carried on to the living room, wherein a sofa sat, scabbed and ripped around the stained padding, erupting from the leather folds. A tube T.V. Faced it from inside a strangely immaculate, wooden cabinet. On the scree, a fuzzy picture every so often emerged from the static of a news reading. The sound Cut off in between sentences.

 

“In the town of... four hundred are feared... It's time to book up your... Son...”

 

Pete held on to the loose banister and crept on to the wooden staircase, torn of their carpet. The hollow clunk of each step seemed too loud to go unheard, but still, he proceeded. Reaching the landing, all rooms were missing their doors and the whole upstairs was empty. Traces of ripped wall paper and remains of old paint jobs layered the walls. From one room a toilet flushed and a bubbling cough followed. Pete followed the sound into a bedroom. Inside, only a squashed mattress lay in the middle, in front of an empty fireplace. The entrance to the en-suite bathroom was parallel on the left, to the bedroom door way. Pete stroked the flaking wall his shoulder approaching the bathroom and stepped into the doorway. He faced the back of an middle aged man who was leant down, running a bath. The boiler rumbled loudly as hot water stuttered out of the tap. Pete coughed into his knuckle to get his attention. The man turned around and a strike of fear crossed his face.

 

“Oh, it's you Pete. You're not here to – you know?”

 

Pete's face remained typically blank. For others around him, it was unsettling to not be able read what Pete might be feeling, ironically his blankness was the truth.

 

“If you know, why are you still here?

 

“Because Pete, because I've got nothing to hide, nothing to regret. I only did what they told me. This is where I live, I have no reason to fear you – Pete.”

 

“I looked up to you, just like all the others. And just like all the others, you were a f*cking lie.”

 

Pete's voice kept to calm monotone. The man spoke in yelps and his eyes darted, unable to stay looking a Pete.

 

“None of us knew this is where it would be going. If we did, we'd have got out. You're Dad, he -”

 

“Don't talk about him.”

 

“But he knew, he knew all along. He used us just like we – I mean he used you.” The man backed up as Pete closed in.

 

“This is how it has to go sir.”

 

Pete stepped closer still then look down to the man's bare feet. "I'm really sorry I never handed in my homework and I'm really sorry I failed your class. But this comes with no regrets, Mr. Thompson.”

 

Pete grabbed hold of Thompson's neck and drove his face in to the bath. A wave of water shot up and gushed onto the floor and ran under Pete's feet. Steam rose from Thompson's face as he fought to raise his head, with each attempt, Pete dunking him back under. His arms flailing in the bath, Thompson began pushing Pete's face back, his hand as his nails dug in to Pete's forehead. Pete pushed forward and his feet slipped on the soaked floorboards and landed all his weight on Thompson. His teacher was now crippled underneath him; his attempts to free himself slowed as his arms fell limp on the rim of the bath and any resistance from his head had stopped. Pete sat down on the floor and panted as he collecting his breath. He rubbed his eyes in and stood back up and dragged his old teacher by his ankles out of the bath. He pulled him through the house, leaving a damp trail over the dusty floor. Pete rolled him over the top step and watched him tumble down the stairs. Grabbing hold of his wrists, Pete continued to drag him to the kitchen. Passing the doorway, the body's clothes snagged on the strip of carpet tacks. Pete pulled harder, eventually tearing thin streaks into the shirt and now a fork of blood joined the trail by the corpses' feet. Finally in the yard, Pete lifted the body with his hands under the corpses' shoulders, exhausting all his might ans dropped him into the wheelbarrow. Pete collapsed on his arse, just missing the spiked of a rake in the grass. He rested up again; thankfully, the fog had slightly thinned and more distant silhouettes could be seen. A few minutes later Pete was back on his feet. He unlocked the bolt on the gate and exited the garden with the rumbling barrow.

-

Edited by ainsz

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