Monday, May 10, 2010

Sinister Plans Are Better When Shared With Others

I'm back, finally.  Before I begin, I just want to apologize for being away for so long.  Let me try and explain.  You see, I'm currently a senior in college, and I've been incredibly busy lately.  I go to school Tuesdays and Thursdays all day, I have clinicals Monday/Wednesday/Friday, and I tutor in the evenings, so I've had barely any spare time for this blog.  However, I plan to post more promptly, so let's dive back into Salem.

Last Time:  Adam rescued four classmates from a mysterious fire, Jordan complained about Adam's inability to use his supposed Herculean strength to rescue Morgan (who was actually already dead) when she should have been investing in sort of chain mail to protect herself from the various rocks thrown at her, Sarah and Michael did nothing worth mentioning (unsurprisingly), and Mara was horribly murdered.  The killer then called our protagonists and lured them to Mara's home, and instead of calling the police, they just destroyed the house.

Chapter Six
May 7
9:45 AM

Leslie walked to Sarah between classes.  She was sitting in their usual spot, but she was alone.  “Sarah, we need to talk.”  She sat down beside her.  She immediately got to the point.  (I'm glad you got straight to the point, Leslie)  “I want you to tell me all about that spell.”  

Okay guys, I know Mara a horrible, mean person, but I'd like to think that you'd show a little more compassion.  Also, are none of you coming under suspicion for Mara's murder?  After all, it's not like you just happened upon her body; you also destroyed her house.

Sarah closed her eyes and sighed.  “Okay, I’ll tell you, but your gonna be shocked.”  Sarah seemed worried.  (I guess we are to assume that Sarah's a witch.  What I want to know is why Leslie had to seek her out to find out what the spell was if it was so important for her to know.  Should Sarah have told her right away?)  “That spell is very old.  So old, and so rare, that only a few witches really understood it, only a few could really cast it. And,” she started, but stopped.  The worried look in her eyes changed to a look of fear, of pure terror.  (Should we be suspicious that Sarah knows what the spell is despite the fact that it's so old?)
“What? What’s wrong?” asked Leslie. 
“You don’t understand, Leslie.  All the witches who knew how to cast it are dead.”

So I'm simultaneously suspicious and not suspicious of Sarah now.  On the one hand, I wonder why she knows about the spells.  On the other, she doesn't actually seem to know very much about it.  Now that can be attributable to one of two things:  either she's hiding something, or she doesn't actually know what the hell she's talking about.  Or I guess it could be poor writing on my part.  We all know that's a possibility.

Michael walked into the locker room after school.  He changed into his swimsuit and was ready to swim.  (Imagine that.  After changing into his swimsuit, he's ready to swim.  I thought he'd be ready to go jogging or destroy another house.)  He walked into the pool area, and noticed it was completely dark. Michael went for the light, but it didn’t work.  (Seriously, is there something in the water in this town.  Two of your friends have just been murdered, one of whom's house was destroyed when you touched a simple symbol.  Why are you swimming alone?)  Suddenly, the pool lights went on, but that was it.  He could barely see anything except the pool, a chair, and a shadow coming towards him.  A shadow of a person.  (Wait, so you can't see anything in the room, but there's somehow enough light for you to see a shadow, yet not the cause of the shadow.  Is this some sort of supernatural shadow.  Does Michael know what a shadow is?)  Michael looked up at the figure coming toward him, and saw her.  ("Looked up?"  Is this girl taller than Michael?  Is she flying?  Unsurprisingly, these issues are never clarified.  Also unsurprising:  how little of a fight Michael puts up.)  The next thing he saw was a baseball bat, and it was coming right at him. 

Tatum got off the phone with Becca.  She had just got done telling her what Sarah had said, and now the whole group knew except for Michael.  (See, proof of Michael's uselessness:  even his own friends call him about important, potentially life-threatening issues last.)  She called his house, letting it ring for a minute.  It rang 3 times.  7 times. 10, 11, 12 times, and still no answer.  (I guess Michael doesn't have an answering machine.)  Michael always went for a swim after school, and then came straight home.  He should have been home by now.  Tatum hung up the phone, wondering where he was.  (Do you really have to wonder?  Obviously, he's about to join Morgan and Mara.  I'd be pretty worried if my name started with M and I lived in this town right about now.)  She couldn’t worry about it for too long, because Becca, Dede, Sarah, and Jordan were coming over for a meeting.  (Oh, I'm glad Tatum doesn't care in the slightest that Michael is missing during a time when two of her friends have just recently been murdered.)

Michael opened his eyes.  He was lying on the floor in the poolroom, and the intruder was gone.  He was tied up, and all he could see was the pool.  (I guess there are no prominent shadows lurking around.)  He then heard a door open from the locker room.  The woman walked up too him.  “Good, you’re awake,” she said in an unrecognizable voice.  (Why do you care that he's awake?  Also, why are you keeping Michael alive?  I know it's not because he's worth anything to his friends.)  
“Why are you doing this?” asked Michael. “Why did you kill Morgan and Mara?” he asked.  (If this were a normal story, I'd say it would be pretty useless to ask the villain her motives.  However, this is a story I wrote, so I'm guess she's going to sing like a canary.)  
The woman just looked at him.  “Okay, I’ll tell you since you’re about to die anyways,” she said.  (See what I mean?)  “I’m am a witch who was killed long ago during the Salem Witch Hunt. I hadn’t done anything to the people of my town, but I was still killed.  Before I died, I chanted a spell so I could come back.  It worked, and I took a new name and identity.” The woman laughed.  “Now, I’ll have my revenge! I’ll kill you all.  You know, some people were tied up and thrown in water to see if the would use magic to escape. Most of them weren’t witches, but that won’t stop me from performing the test on you,” she said. 

Alright, witch woman, if you really wanted revenge on your killers, why are you just now coming back to slaughter a bunch of useless teenagers?  It's not like anyone will miss them, nor are they responsible for your death.  If you really wanted revenge, why didn't you come back right after your death?  Actually, why didn't you just wipe all the villagers out with a mass kill spell.  If you can come back from the dead, then you must be packing a lot of power.

“Who are you?” asked Michael. 
“My name now is-“ she was interrupted. 
Tatum burst into the room.  (I bet you wish you hadn't been so forthcoming with info now, don't you witch?)  “I heard all you said,” she said.  (Oh, come on, Tatum!  If you were listening to all that said, why didn't you wait another half second to hear the witch's current alias?  Oh, that's right, you didn't want to make this investigation too easy on yourself.)
“Oh yeah, well you’re too late,” said the woman.  She pushed Michael into the water, and Tatum dived in after him.  (This scene is ripped from Swimfan.)  She was about to hit the water when the woman performed a spell.  Strong power shot from her fingertips and surrounded Tatum.  She was suddenly moving very slowly, and she saw the pool disappear.  Ground replaced it, and Tatum landed on her stomach.  She looked around and stood up.  It was morning, and there was a small village in the distance.  Tatum walked into the village and suddenly noticed something odd about her clothing.  It was the same clothes she had been wearing, but everyone else in the village was dressed in olden day clothes.  (So the fact that you're not wearing the same clothes as everyone else is what tipped you off that something weird is going on, Tatum?  As opposed to the fact that you tried to dive into a pool and were instead transferred to another place, I mean?) They stared at her strangely, and she stared back.  She saw a large crowd standing around a fire.  She walked to it and saw something terrible.  Someone was in that fire.  This was a witch burning, and Tatum was in Salem during the Salem witch hunt.  I think this is sort of a rash assumption, given that witch burnings happened in more than just Salem.  Still, I guess where this witch burning took place really isn't relevant.)

So if the witch had the power to travel through time, why didn't she just travel back herself and kill everyone?  And why exactly is she trying to accomplish by sending Tatum there?  

Chapter Seven
May 7
? PM

See what I mean about time having no meaning?  I don't know about you, but I was under the impression that time still existed in the past.  Look how much we've learned from this story already!

Tatum tried to see the face of the girl in the fire, but the flames rose in front of her face.  See, how does this benefit the witch?  Why does she want Tatum to know more about her plan?  And look how close Tatum came to see who was in the fire.  We find out later who this actually is, but if Tatum had found out now, this story would be a lot shorter.)  Tatum looked over at the end of the crowd and saw a woman crying.  Probably was the girl’s mother.  The girl then chanted some words, and the clouds darkened.  Tatum could feel the evil of it all and shuddered as everything went black.  She was suddenly in a new place, but it seemed like she was still in the same village.  She was in front of a gallows, but no crowd was around it.  All she saw was a few groups of people and two bodies hang from nooses.  Two men in conversation walked by her, and she caught a bit of the dialogue.  “….that young girl that was in the middle must’ve been a real witch. Did you hear the evil in her voice as she chanted that spell?” said one man.  (It's nice to know that these hanger people didn't actually believe the other hung people were witches, yet they still complied.)  “Yeah, I thought so too. You know, that was the same spell that the girl from the other day chanted. You know that girl…..”  They walked out of earshot.  Tatum looked at the empty spot in the middle of the gallows, wondering what that girl had looked like.  Suddenly she was back at the fire, then back at the gallows, then back at the fire.  (I really don't understand why the witch is trying to help Tatum.  I mean, even she's going to be able to determine that these events are related.  She's not that much of an idiot.)  Tatum knew these events were connected somehow, and she knew that one of these two girls had come back.  (See what I mean?)
Tatum stood in the village long after she the fire had burnt out, and then felt something in her stomach.  It was incredible pain, so incredible that she passed out.  When she opened her eyes, everyone was gone, and she was back in the pool area.  (Apparently the trip back through time isn't as pleasant as the original voyage.)  She looked in the pool and saw Michael’s body.  Tatum ran form the pool area.  (Because there's nothing more suspicious than leaving a crime scene.)  She ran all the way home, because she knew that the person behind all this was probably someone she already knew.  (You'd know exactly who this person was if you'd waited another second to hear her say her name, you freaking idiot.)

Adam sat in his seat in the living room, waiting for his sister and Michael to arrive.  Jordan had just entered, though she was supposed to come with Michael.  (There's no mention of whether or not Jordan is wearing any sort of protection.  I'd at least wear a helmet if I were her...who knows when a rock will come flying out of nowhere?)  He was sitting there quietly when Tatum burst into the room.  “Who was the last one here?” she shouted. 
“What are you talking about?” asked Leslie. 
“Who was the last one here!” Tatum shouted. 
Everyone was quiet.  (Probably because none of them want to incur Tatum's unrelenting rage.)  “It was Jordan,” said Becca.  (Sell-out)
Tatum ran over to her and held her throat.  “It’s you. You killed Michael and Morgan and Mara. You sent me back in time. You did everything!”  (Okay, you're gonna need to calm down, Tatum.  You're starting to look a little bit insane.)
Jordan coughed, then said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”  Tatum looked around the room. 
Everyone was shocked at what they were hearing.  “What are you doing!” said Dede. 
“I tell you the whole story,’ said Tatum, and begin to explain all she had learned at the pool house and in the past.  (Is she still holding Jordan by the neck?)  “And Jordan was the last one in the room, so she had to have been the one that killed Michael.”  (And no one can argue with that logic.)
“That’s ridiculous,” said Sarah. 
“Yeah, we all got here at about the same time,” said Becca.  (Or maybe they can.)
Tatum let go of Jordan’s neck.  “Sorry,” she said.  “I guess they’re right.”  (Wow, Tatum's easily convinced.  I bet the witch could fly up right now and convince Tatum that she herself is the witch.  She'll be killing her friends any second now.  Speaking friend homicide, is Jordan still alive?  How long did Tatum strangle her before she decided she was innocent?)
Jordan rubbed her neck.  “That’s alright,” she said. 
After everyone had calmed down, Adam spoke up.  “Well, I think anyone of us could be the next target.  We just don’t know who’s next.”

And so we've reached the end of another installment.  Michael died, but I doubt any of his friends even remember he existed since I'm pretty sure he said a whole three words during his tenure in the story.  All in all, the witch is proving to be just as much of idiot as the others in the story.  It's almost like she wants to get caught.  Still these idiots are going to need a lot more help if they want to catch her.

Next time:  Someone breaks the number one rule of scary stories (asking "Who's there?"), we'll learn a new age form of communication, the witch reveals even more information, Jordan is hit by more than just a rock, and Leslie chooses the worst possible time to have a conversation.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Definition of Karma

            I’m back!  Sorry it’s been so long; I’ve been exceedingly busy.  First, I had finals at school, then I something…well, not good happened, and then I had Christmas events (I had four different Christmases on four successive days).  Anyways, I’m back now.

Last time:  A mysterious assailants began stalking the residents of Salem, Massachusetts, killing poor Morgan, whose supposed friends didn’t care that she was missing a whole lot (or at all if we’re talking about Mara).  Also, we met Jordan, whose timely arrival at the school is not at all suspicious.

Chapter Three
May 6
8:56 AM
Tatum opened her history book as she prepared for class.  She saw Leslie come in with a girl that Tatum didn’t recognize.  She was about to go ask her when the bell rang.  It would have to wait.  “Okay class,” said Mr. Thompson, the history teacher. “Open your books to page 330.”  He looked around the room, he noticed Jordan.  “Okay class, before we get started, we have a new student. Her name is Jordan Malcolm. Miss Malcolm, why don’t you tell us about yourself.”  (This rarely actually happened when I was in school…I guess my teachers were more sympathetic to new students than Mr. Thompson is.) 
Jordan stood up and started to speak.  She looked extremely nervous.  “Well, I’m Jordan Malcolm.  I used to live in…..” she hesitated.  “I used to live in Pittsburgh.”  (I don’t know why I chose Pittsburgh.)  She was about to sit down when Tatum’s friend Michael asked her something.  “So why did you move here now?” he asked.  (Man, this little introduction speech just keeps getting worse.  Now people are asking questions.  I feel for you, Jordan.)
Jordan hesitated again, and then finally spoke. “Well, uh.. my family they, uh, decided to….” She was cut off.  (This is supposed to indicate that Jordan is uncomfortable discussing her past, but it really just seems like she’s embarrassed by the situation her insensitive teacher and fellow students have put her in.  Or that I was incredibly bad at foreshadowing…I’m choosing to believe the former.)  Suddenly the fire alarm went off and everyone scrambled to get to the door.  Tatum got a glimpse of Jordan before she was hurried out of the room.  She stood at her desk and sighed in relief.  Jordan was defiantly hiding something, Tatum decided, and she was going to find out what it was.  (I don’t know why people in my stories are always so suspicious.  Maybe Jordan is just glad the complete awkwardness she was just forced endure is over?  I would be.  Still, Faith and her friends from “The Babysitter” would never have noticed anything was strange, except maybe Lily, so I guess Tatum is a slight improvement in the intellect department.)

Adam opened his eyes.  He was in his classroom, and smoke filled the room.  He looked to his right, and saw his lab partner and friend, Dede, lying on the ground.  Some people were still in the room, unconscious, but for the most part everyone was gone.  (Why are people unconscious?  What started the fire?  Apparently I felt these details were unnecessary to explain, probably because there is no logical explanation, which is unsurprising.) 
Adam looked for the source of the fire, and saw it by the door.  (If it’s by the door, why are people all around the room unconscious?  Was there an explosion?)  It was large, and there was no way to get out of the room through the door.  He knew this room led into the regular science room, and there was a way out that way.  Adam grabbed Dede’s hands and pulled her into the next room.  (Wow, Adam’s sort of impressing me.  Who’d have thought that I’d write a character who was actually likeable?  Though there is still time to ruin Adam.) 
He got to the door and pulled on it.  It was locked.  The door was locked, yet there had been students in that classroom earlier.  The door should have been unlocked.  He left Dede by the door and went to get his remaining three classmates. 
This make so sense.  There is no apparent way out of the room, so Adam decides to drag his remaining unconscious classmates to a locked door.  And another thing is bothering me about this whole fire storyline:  where did all the other students/teachers go when the fire started and knocked some of the students out?  Why is Adam the only one in the room who’s not unconscious, and why are there only a handful of students still in the room?  The teachers of this school should be fired.
He walked into the lab and saw that the twins Mia and Mya were lying on the floor.  They were light, and they barley weighed 200 pounds combined.  He drug them into the next room easily (at the same time?  I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t classify dragging 200 pounds across the room as “easy.”), and went back for his remaining classmate.  It was George Adams, who weighed 230 pounds.  He tried to drag him into the next room, but it was hard.  (First of all, I’m sorry if this offends anyone.  I had no concept of weight or anything like that back then.  Also, how is 230 pounds hard to drag across a room while 200 pounds is easy?  That doesn’t make sense either.)
By the time the rest of the class was in the regular science room, the fire had spread across the room.  Adam closed the door, which kept some of the smoke out of the room.  Adam was extremely tired, but he knew he had to continue.  He went to open the windows, but they were the kind that didn’t open since his school was air-conditioned.  (Okay, now this is just a hazard.  There’s no way a school would have non-opening windows for this very [unlikely] reason.  What if there’s a fire and someone locks a bunch of students inside?) 
Adam grabbed a book and threw it at the window.  It shattered instantly, and Adam began to drag Dede to the window.  He picked her up as best as he could and lowered her out the window.  Next he got the twins, one at a time, and pushed them out the window.  He still had to get George out the window. (Maybe you shouldn’t have wasted your energy dragging him to the locked door on the other side of the room, Adam.)  Try as he might, there was no way Adam was going to get George out the window by himself. (Admittedly, it would be pretty hard to get an unconscious person through a window, unless it was a small child or something).  He would have to wait for help.
He didn’t have to wait long.  Dede opened her eyes, dazed and confused. (This is not a reference to the movie…I had never heard of it when I wrote this.)  She stood up and saw Adam in the room.  (This is way too convenient.  I hate plot contrivances like this, yet my stories are full of them).  “Adam!” she said.  Adam looked around at her.  “Dede! Help me get George!” he said, pointing to his body.  Together, they were able to get George out of the classroom just as it collapsed.
Okay, so despite the some ridiculous choices, I am kind of impressed with Adam, who deserves some sort of cool reward.  Maybe this story will have more likeable characters, though they do seem to possess the same stupidity gene as the characters of “The Babysitter,” albeit to a lesser degree.  Still, there might be hope for them yet.

Chapter Four
May 6
8:01 PM
Becca took her hot chocolate into the living room and turned on the news.  “And now for the Breaking news,” said Zelda van Gutters, the anchorwoman.  (Oh man.  I cannot believe the name I chose for the news anchor.  I’m pretty sure it was the name of a dog in the Nickelodeon magazine I used to get as a child, and I’m choosing to believe that it was.)  “A fire at Winslow High School (Yes, this is the name of the school in Scream.) resulted in one death today, that of Morgan Ross, though there is some speculation about her death.  Morgan was a sophomore at Winslow; the fire was in a ninth grade classroom.  ‘Morgan wasn’t there,’ says Adam Wilson, who rescued four classmates from the fire (after the incompetent teachers of the school left the 14 year old alone with four unconscious classmates.”) 
Becca sat up in her chair.  Wow, she thought.  Adam was a hero.  (Again, he wouldn’t have had to risk his life to save his classmates if not for the teachers’ complete disregard for their students.)  She was also shocked to hear of Morgan’s death and was eager to hear more about it.  (Man, first Mara and now Becca.  These people are way too interested/excited in their classmate’s death.  They’re insensitive jerks.)  The news story went on.  “Morgan was also reported missing this morning, and no one at Winslow reports seeing her before or after the fire.  And fireman are still not able to pinpoint the source of the fire,” said Zelda. 
Now wait just a second!  First of all, I think that the firemen would be able to pinpoint the source of the fire.  Second, there’s still no explanation about why the students were unconscious.  It seems like there might have been an explosion, but “Zelda” isn’t reporting that.  Thirdly, I’m sort of unsure whether or not Morgan being there would be suspicious.  I mean, maybe she was trying to rescue the students in the room after she saw the teachers fleeing the scene.  And don’t you have to wait 24 hours to report a person missing?  On the other hand, I think the coroner would be able to determine that Morgan was already dead when the fire started.  This story is already becoming senseless.
Becca was shocked.  She had to call Leslie and see how she was.  She picked up the phone, and dialed the number.

Mara turned off the TV.  Morgan was dead.  Wow, was this a juicy piece of information.  (Oh man, Mara, you make Lauren of “The Babysitter” look like a saint.  You, my friend, are a huge jerk.)  She didn’t even feel bad, since she never liked Morgan in the first place.  (Okay, but I would still feel bad even if Morgan had been my worst enemy.  You’re pretty heartless, Mara.) She didn’t really like any of her “friends.”  They were just the people that would get her in the right place to rise to another level of popularity.  (She reminds me of a gold-digging trophy wife here.  Actually, that’s probably her life goal.)  She was about to call Leslie when she remembered that they were mad at each other, which really didn’t bother her, since she didn’t like any of them in the first place.  (Alright, I’m about to kill Mara myself.) 
Mara decided to head upstairs for a shower.  She walked up the stairs and headed into the bathroom.  She turned the water on, but suddenly heard something in her room.  (I used this tactic a lot…I’d have the character turn on the shower and then leave the room, and then something bad happens to them.  Anyone remember River’s big scene in “The Babysitter?”) 
Mara went into her room and flipped the light switch on.  Nothing happened.  She flipped it again.  Still nothing.  Mara heard someone moving, and suddenly all the lights in the house went off.  (Wait a minute…if the stalker was just going to kill the lights in the entire house, why cut the lights in Mara’s room first?)  Mara suddenly felt a pain in her side, like a needle was sticking inside her.  She felt the pain again, this time it was in her back.  (YEAH!  KILL HER, STALKING PERSON!  Okay, if this was real then I wouldn’t be so casual about someone being in pain, but this is a story, and Mara is getting pretty annoying.)  Then in her arm, her neck, her leg.  What was happening?  Suddenly, she couldn’t see.  She was blind.  (This is actually kind of an intriguing scene in my opinion, at least compared to other “death scenes” in my stories.  Why can’t Mara see?) 
Mara stumbled to the bathroom and tried to find the glass door.  (Whenever I mention that the shower door is glass, you can expect that the doors will be broken.)  She would hide in there.  Mara felt for it, but tripped over something.  She then felt some force lifting her into the air.  It was controlling her.  It threw her into the shower door, shattering the glass.  (See what I mean?  I was so predictable.)
Mara hit the wall.  She slumped to the ground.  Suddenly she could see again, and the lights came back on.  (Okay, so maybe the lights were turned off using supernatural means.  I just assumed the killer turned them off using the circuit box or whatever…I’m not really familiar with electrical equipment.)  She saw someone unwrapping a cloth from around the eyes of a doll.  Needles stuck out of it.  It was a voodoo doll.  (Okay, so a voodoo doll’s not the most original concept, but I still actually kind of like this scene.) She looked up and saw the woman controlling her.  Mara gasped as the intruder grabbed her head.  She couldn’t believe it.  The intruder was-SNAP!  (This would actually be rather frightening if it happened in real life.  Unfortunately, I don’t think it translates well to paper.) The woman broke Mara’s neck.
Okay, so the writing could be better and things aren’t always explained very well, but I actually kind of like this scene.  If I were going to rewrite this story, which I currently have no plans to do, I probably wouldn’t change a whole lot about the basic premise of this scene.
As for Mara, I remember hoping people would feel sympathetic for her, but alas, I don’t.  On the contrary, I’m glad we don’t have to hear about how she doesn’t really like any of her friends anymore and will be spared her incessant lack of respect for her deceased classmate Morgan.  If she’d known that she would soon be joining her, I doubt Mara would have been so cavalier about Morgan’s death.  Serves her right.

Chapter Five
May 6
8:02 PM
            Leslie was talking to Jordan.  “Yeah, I can’t believe Morgan is dead,” said Leslie.  (You sound really distraught, Leslie.) 
“I know, too bad that Adam kid couldn’t have saved her too.  He saved everyone else in the room though,” said Jordan.  (Wow.  Instead of a reward, Adam’s got people complaining that he’s isn’t, in fact, endowed with superpowers and could only save four people and not five.  These people are ungrateful jerks.) 
“That Adam kid is my brother,” said Leslie. 
“Wow, that’s really cool,” said Jordan.  (Yeah, whatever Jordan.  I know you’re just trying to counter your previous comment.  Luckily, Leslie isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer and doesn’t notice.) 
“Hey Jordan, why did you get so tense today when you were introducing yourself.  You also got really nervous when I told you we were learning about the Salem Witch Hunt. Why was that?” asked Leslie.  (I just remembered what Jordan’s hiding…it took me this long to remember the a plot point of a story I wrote.  What does that tell you about this story?  It’s not very memorable, that’s what.  Also, I feel bad for Jordan and the constant stream of awkward conversations she’s being forced to endure.  Maybe Adam can come and save you from this interview Leslie’s giving…unless he’s, you know, busy saving four other people instead.)   
“Well, I can’t answer the first question, but I can answer the second,” said Jordan.  (Way to be inconspicuous, Jordan.  You’re not hiding anything at all.)  “Someone I’m, uh, related to was burned at the stake during that time.”  (Her stammering was supposed to indicate that she was hiding something about the second question, as well.  It’s not very effective.  Also, if this is true, Jordan needs to get over it.  No one she has ever met was even alive during the Salem Witch Hunt!  Why does it bother you so much!) 
“Oh how terrible!” exclaimed Leslie.  “Who was it?” she asked.  No answer.  “Jordan?”  Still no answer.  (This isn’t really clear, since I never even established that Leslie and Jordan were talking on the phone and not in person, but Jordan isn’t just being quiet; the call was interrupted.)  Leslie hung up and was about to call her back when the phone rang.  “Jordan?” asked Leslie. 
“Not Jordan,” said the voice.  (Why do the supernatural entities in my stories feel the need to call the protagonists?  At least this person didn’t reveal his/her entire plan – unlike the demon in “The Babysitter.”  Well, at least not yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it eventually happens.)
“Who is this?” asked Leslie.  “Come,” is all the voice said.  “Where?” asked Leslie.  “You know where. And bring you brother and sister.”  The person hung up. Leslie checked her caller ID.  The call had come from Mara’s house.  (This is actually kind of creepy, though if I were Leslie I would probably suspect that the caller was, in fact, Mara.  We readers, however, know that Mara is dead, which was supposed to make this situation disconcerting.)

Tatum was walking with Adam and Leslie.  They were on their way to Mara’s house.  (If they really think Mara is in trouble, why didn’t they call the police?  Their friend just died under mysterious circumstances, and there was just a massive, unconsciousness-inducing fire at the school.  Something might be going on, you idiots.  Sigh…why didn’t I ever write smarter characters?)  They didn’t know why someone had called them but it didn’t sound good.  Something was wrong.  “Are you sure that it wasn’t Mara,” asked Adam. 
“Yes,” said Leslie.  (Well, I’m glad Leslie doesn’t need to explain this.  I, for one, want to know what the mysterious caller sounded like.  Sadly, we’ll never know.) 
Tatum listened to the rustling of the leaves, but there was no wind.  How could the leaves be rustling with no wind.  (Uh oh…something spooky’s going on!  There’s no wind!  Better watch out!)  “Stop,” Tatum whispered.  They all stopped.  “Listen, do you guys here that?” she asked.  The rustling was coming from the left.  It was also coming closer.  (Oh, this is actually kind of unsettling.  The leaves are moving because someone is coming toward them.  Well, we know it’s not the police since apparently none of these characters are aware that such people exist.  Who could it be?)
Tatum shivered as it came to them.  She picked up a rock as the figure came into view.  She was about to hurl the rock when Adam screamed “NO!”  Tatum stopped and saw Dede.  (Something about this scene just makes me cringe.  It’s way over the top.  I don’t think anyone would actually react this way, though this is a story about supposedly supernatural events involving witches, so I guess realism really shouldn’t be a consideration.)
“You scared the crap out of me!” Tatum told her. 
“Sorry,” said Dede.  Suddenly they heard rustling from the right.  Tatum clutched her rock as someone else emerged from the bushes.  Tatum hurled her rock right at………..Jordan.  She fell to the ground as the rock hit her.  (Holy crap, how big was this rock?  Was it a boulder or something, or does Jordan just have the worst balance of anyone in the world?)  Someone hurried to help her up, and Tatum recognized her friend Michael.  (Wait, who’s this Michael person?  Have I mentioned him yet?  If I have, he apparently wasn’t very memorable.  That doesn’t bode well for his character.) 
“Why did you do that?” he asked. 
“Sorry,” said Tatum.  (“Yeah, sorry I nearly killed you with a giant boulder, unless I actually threw a small rock and you just have terrible balance.  Then it’s all your fault.”)
“Yeah, we thought you were someone else,” said Adam.  (Though Adam doesn’t say whom they were expecting.  Again, if they’re really this scared, why didn’t they call the police?)
“Why are you all here?” asked Jordan. 
“I was headed to Mara’s house with my sister, Becca, when we got separated,” said Dede.  (If they all know each other, shouldn’t they all know that Becca and Dede are sisters?  Why did Dede feel the need to clarify this?) 
“We were going there too,” said Jordan.  (Who’s “we?”  Was she traveling with Michael?  If so, how do they know each other?) 
“So were we!” said Leslie. 
“Did someone call you and tell you to come?” asked Tatum.  Everyone nodded and said yes. 
“Wow, this is weird,” said Michael.  (Yeah, just a little odd, but not at all something you should call the police about.  These people are morons.  Maybe this story takes place in the same town as that “The Babysitter” occurred in?  That would explain a lot about.)
“Well, were almost there,” said Leslie.  She was right.  Mara’s huge house was visible in the distance.  They all finally emerged from the woods behind her house when someone hurled a rock at Jordan.  (Another familiar plot device.  Everyone lives near the woods, and the only way to get anywhere on foot is by running through said woods.)  Once again she fell to the ground. 
“Ouch!” she said, holding her shoulder where she had been hit.  Tatum looked at who had hit her.  It was Becca and Sarah.  (Oh man, I actually laughed reading this.  Forget the killer, Jordan’s friends are the real threat.  She’ll be lucky to survive the chapter.) 
“Sorry,” said Becca. 
“Yeah,” said Sarah, “we thought you were someone else.”  (Who are you?  Have I mentioned you?  Again, if I have, I’m thinking that you and Michael are both doomed.)
“What are you guys doing here?” asked Tatum. 
            “Someone called us and invited us to come,” said Becca.  They walked to Mara’s back door and knocked.  There was no answer.  Tatum opened the door and walked in.  (Is it just me, or does it seem like it took them FOREVER to get to Mara’s house?  Come on already!)
“Mara,” called Sarah.  There was no answer. 
“Let’s split up,” suggested Adam.  (Adam, you’re hero license is dangerously close to being revoked.  You never split up, especially considering the circumstances.)  They did.  He, Dede, and Sarah went upstairs, while Tatum and Michael looked in the basement, and Leslie, Jordan, and Becca looked on the main floor.  (They don’t even split up into two large groups, but rather into three smaller groups.  You. People. Are idiots.)  Adam walked into the bathroom.  The lights were off, and when he flicked the switch, the light didn’t go on.  He flicked it again, but still nothing happened.  (Uh oh…this is an allusion to Mara’s death.  Gasp!)  Dede and Sarah walked in, and suddenly the door closed. 
“What happened?” asked Dede.  They stood in the darkness, trying to get the door open. 
“What’s going on?” said Sarah.  Suddenly the lights went on and the three kids stared at the shower in terror.  Mara was hanging from the showerhead.  The glass door was shattered, and blood stained the floor.  (Whoa, this is very macabre and actually somewhat frightening.  Or at least it would be in real life.)
There was a symbol around Mara.  They didn’t dare touch it.  “Sarah, do you recognize the symbol?” asked Adam. 
Sarah looked at it.  She was a practicing witch, (which is not suspicious at all in a story about witches and witchcraft.) so she might know what it was.  “It looks like a protection spell, but different somehow,” she said. 
“Do recognize it?” asked Dede. 
Sarah examined it closer.  She was about to touch, then stopped.  “Oh my gosh….this is an evil spell!”  (I have no familiarity with witchcraft outside of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I’m sure isn’t accurate, so I don’t describe the symbol here.  As if I needed a reason to be vague and nondescript.)
“What’s it do?” asked Adam. 
Dede walked to it.  She put her hand on the symbol and shuddered.  (Seriously, Dede?  Sarah just told you the symbol was evil.  Why would you touch it?)  She was thrown back, through the door, and hit the wall in the hallway.  “That’s what it does,” said Sarah as the ground began to rumble. The walls began to crumble (That wasn’t supposed to rhyme) and the floor started to fall in.  It then completely fell apart.  Adam and Sarah fell to the floor below; the only thing left in the bathroom was the showerhead, with Mara’s body hanging from it.  (Nice job, Dede.  See what you did?  Actually, that was pretty suspicious.)

Alright, so we’ve finished this installment of “Salem.”  As promised last time, we lost another character (thanks again, mysterious stalker for putting us out of our misery and killing Mara), and all we need is for the stalker to kill Michael, Sarah, and Tatum to eliminate the ones who are useless and/or utterly unbearable.  However, if we get rid of Tatum, she won’t have the chance to try and kill her friends with boulders anymore.  Unfortunately, I think Tatum’s going to be with us for a while.

Next time:  The characters exhibit extraordinary selective memory by all but ignoring the destruction of Mara’s house, we learn more about the extent of Sarah’s knowledge of the occult, the witch will slay another character (believe me, you won’t miss him/her in the slightest), and someone travels back in time where, ironically, time seems to have no meaning but the date is still relevant.  Yeah, that doesn’t make sense to me either.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Burning Alive

Cast of Main Characters
Tatum- 15 years old. Interested in Salem witch hunt.
Leslie- 16 years old. Tatum’s sister.
Adam- 14 years old. Tatum and Leslie’s brother.
Dede- 14 years old. Adam’s friend.
Sarah- 17 years old. Leslie’s friend. Modern day witch.
Michael- 16 years old. Tatum’s friend.
Becca- 15 years old. Tatum and Michael’s friend.
Jordan- 17 years old. The new girl.

            Okay, so this story is about someone stalking people in Salem, Massachusetts, site of the infamous Salem Witch Hunt back in the day, and killing them the same way they killed witches.  Or that was the intention at least.  Some of the deaths don’t really have anything to do with deaths during the Salem Witch Hunt, at least not that I’m aware of.  I sort of ran out material, so I think I just started making things up.  Basically, this became more of slasher story, where people are just randomly murdered, as opposed to there being any method to the madness.  This is completely unsurprising to me and actually typical of my stories.
            One thing about this story that’s different from “The Babysitter” is the fact that this story is very macabre and dark, or at least more so than “The Babysitter.”  What I mean is, while the latter had some flashes of sinister things (anyone remember Lily’s soul-sucking, where she was pinned to the wall with knives?), the attacks were relatively tame.  In this story, however, some of the killings are actually very painful-sounding, such as when *someone* burns to death.  However, there are also many atrocious, horribly-written scenes (just wait for Becca’s big moment with the stalker, which is one of the most unintentionally hilarious things I’ve ever written).
            Before we begin, though, a word about the names.  Tatum was named after a character from Scream, played by Rose McGowen (she played the sister of Dewey [David Arquette] who is SPOILER ALERT killed by garage door when she tries to escape said garage).  Dede, Mara, Becca, and Jordan were originally named something else I think, but after watching MTV’s Sorority Life back in the day, I changed them to the names of the pledge master (Becca) and three pledges (Dede, Mara, and Jordan).  Yeah, I don’t really know why I did that, since the characters are nothing like their namesakes, except for Becca, who only resembles the real Becca in appearance (not that I bother to actually describe my Becca).  Dede, by the way, is pronounced like “DeeDee;” yes, the real Dede actually spelled her name like this. And with that, let’s begin “Salem.”

The Past
May 9
7:41 AM
She wiped her eyes as they slipped the rope around her neck.  She hadn’t done anything to the people of this sleepy town, yet they were hanging her.  She looked to her left. Her sister, Mary, stood there.  To her right, Betsy was there, and they all stood at the gallows.  They had been accused of being witches and were now going to die.  Betsy and Mary were crying, and she had as well, but now knew there was something better to do.  Her friend, Leah, who actually was a witch, had been burned the other day.  She had chanted a spell right before she died.  Now the spell was stuck in her mind, and she knew what she was going to do.  As Betsy and Mary were pushed off the gallows, she spoke the magic words.  She immediately felt power course through her body, and she knew she would have her revenge. Even as she was pushed off the gallows, she knew she’d be back.
I love that this person, who is not a witch at all, is able to just invoke some hidden power at whim without any sort of training or practice.  If this were real life, I’d be worried because anyone could just randomly decide to start casting spells on people left and right.
FYI, I deliberately did not reveal her name.  In hindsight, however, I don’t really know why I did this, but I remember it being deliberate.

Chapter One
Present Day
May 5
10:30 PM
Morgan woke up as she heard a crash downstairs.  Someone was in her house.  Morgan’s parents were on vacation, leaving her home alone.  She had been scared, so she had brought a knife upstairs with her.  (I’ve actually done this before…which I am ashamed to admit.  As a result, I can’t knock Morgan for this.) She clutched in her hands and climbed out of bed.
Morgan tiptoed halfway down the stairs and listened.  (What the hell, Morgan?!?!  Why are you investigating?  Personally, I’d have already climbed out the window and be running for safety by now.  I guess I sort of admire you’re resolve, even though it’s going to result in your death.  If you thought that was a spoiler, then you must not have read my first story.)  She could still hear the person moving around, but was still in the entry hallway.  Morgan silently stepped down the stairs, hands trembling.  (Again Morgan, why exactly are you going downstairs, especially considering how scared you are?  Climb out a window!  Or, better yet, call the effing police!)  She reached the bottom, and screamed.  (Way to blow your cover, dumbass.)  The intruder was right in front of her.
Morgan screamed again, then ran back upstairs.  (Of course it was necessary for her to scream a second time, especially before she ran back upstairs.)  She could hear the intruder following her, close behind her.  It was a woman, and she grabbed Morgan’s blonde hair.  (How the eff does Morgan know the intruder’s a woman?)  Morgan grabbed the stair railing as the woman let go of her hair and grabbed her feet.  Morgan screamed as she let go.  The duo rolled down the stairs.  (Oh man, these people are idiots.  I’m starting to think this story takes place in the same [hopefully] fictional town as “The Babysitter.”)  Morgan got up first, and realized something.  They were both girls.  She had a weapon, the intruder didn’t.  Morgan was an orange belt in karate, which was pretty good.  (I actually had no idea back then if an orange belt was good, and I still don’t.  In fact, I don’t even if there is an orange belt.  The entire extent of my karate knowledge comes from this kid I babysit who can break a board with his hand.  Back when I wrote this, I wasn’t babysitting board-breaking kids who could kill me, so I didn’t even have the little karate knowledge that I have now.)  She could probably take the woman who was now getting up. 
Okay, Morgan:  if she pulled you down the stairs, why try to fight her?  At the very least, she seems to be in pretty good shape, so why try and…well, what were you planning to do anyways, Morgan?  Kill this person?  Even though she broke into your house, you seem pretty okay with slaughtering her.  Maybe you’re the murderer in this story?
As Morgan prepared herself for battle, the woman grabbed her.  Morgan thrust the knife toward the woman’s stomach.  The intruder was incredibly fast, and grabbed Morgan’s hand before she was even close to stabbing her.  (I bet you’re regretting that surge of empowerment you felt a minute ago, aren’t you?  At least you still have your weapon.)  The woman took the knife and threw it.  (Uh, nevermind.  At least neither of you appear to have a weapon, though.)  She reached inside her large coat and threw some kind of liquid on Morgan.  (Okay, scratch that.  I guess it’s *possible* that the liquid isn’t anything that can do real damage, but who are we kidding?  Morgan’s doomed.)  It smelled like gasoline, and suddenly Morgan knew what the intruder was trying to do.  She ran to the door, the intruder right behind her.  (Now she runs.  Better late than never I guess.)  She got to the door and opened it, but paused.  She looked at the woman.  Morgan saw her face as the woman said, “Time to die.”  Morgan looked up and saw a flaming rag come at her.  It would be the last thing she ever saw. 
Umm, so I guess that whole better late than never thing doesn’t really hold up since it was Morgan’s attempt to escape that eventually did her in.  I’m sort of confused by this sequence though.  If we’re to believe this woman set some sort of booby trap, how did she do so?  Also, what would she have done if Morgan had gotten bold and stayed and fought, or if she had tried to run back upstairs?  Is the entire house rigged with flaming rags? 
So I guess Morgan’s not the murderer, unless she’s faking her death…which I doubt.  But seriously, where the eff did this “flaming rag” come from?  And was it just floating there (by magical means perhaps), waiting for Morgan to enter the room?  I really hope not, because that’s just ludicrous…though this is a story dealing with supernatural stuff, so I guess the whole thing’s ludicrous.

Chapter Two
May 6
6:15 AM
Tatum opened her eyes as the sunlight streamed into her room.  She was excited about today.  They were starting the segment on the Salem Witch Hunt in History class.  Tatum had been looking forward to it all year. 
In real life, I was excited whenever we would learn about the Salem Witch Hunt, too, until I had to play the part of Reverend Hale when my class acted out The Crucible.  I told my teacher I didn’t want to act, and she said she’d give me a small part.  I guess by small she meant the second largest male part in the entire play.  Thanks a lot, Mrs. P.
Tatum walked down the hall into her brother Adam’s room.  She woke him up and went back to her and Leslie’s room to shower and get dressed.  Leslie was already awake and in the kitchen, eating. 
After she was done, Tatum went into the living room of her family’s middle class apartment.  (I don’t really know why I felt the need to specify that the apartment was “middle class.”  I’ve never lived in an apartment, so I don’t even know what a “middle class” apartment would be like.)  Her mom’s suitcases were by the door.  (Conveniently, Tatum’s mom is going out of town just when everything’s about to go down.  Hmm, that’s suspicious.  At least her dad’s staying in town to protect his children.) 
“Okay Tatum,” said her mom as she walked into the room.  “I’m ready to go. And remember, your dad will be really busy for work so don’t bother him.”  She rolled up her sleeves halfway and went into the kitchen.  (I find the whole “sleeve rolling” phrase to be very bizarre.  Why is she rolling her sleeves up halfway?  Why not just wear a t-shirt?  Also, I don’t think I ever establish why Tatum’s mom is going out of town.  Maybe she’s having an affair?  Or, better yet, maybe she’s working with/is the killer?  Maybe it’s some combination of the two, and this whole plot is an elaborate attempt to murder her family so she can start a new life with her lover?)
That’s when her dad walked into the room, talking into his cell phone.  “No! No, I can’t come to New York! My wife will be out of town and there’s no one to watch the kids.  I don’t care how important he is.”  There was a pause.  “Fine. Fine, I’ll be there.”  (Man, Mr. Tatum’s Dad gives in pretty easily.  Perhaps he’s having an affair, and the argument was just an act?  Maybe he and his wife are working together to eliminate their children?  If his wife is planning to have him killed, I bet she’s pretty pissed right about now.)  He hung up the phone.  He looked at Tatum.  “Tatum, sweetie, I have to go out of town.  There’s a very important client I have to go see.  I’ll ask Mrs. Wyatt to come stay with you.” 
Tatum couldn’t believe what he was saying.  “But Dad, I’m old enough to stay home alone, and so are Leslie and Adam.  We’re not babies anymore,” she said, going on and on and on.  (I don’t think my parents left me home alone overnight until I was 18 or so…I have no idea if they were just being overprotective of if they were being practical [which wasn’t really an issue because I never did anything to worry them growing up].  Still, I’d be concerned about leaving a 16 year old and her younger siblings home alone all weekend in my middle class apartment.)
“Okay,” said her dad, but Tatum went on.  “Okay Tatum, I trust you,” he said, finally silencing her.  (Apparently, Tatum’s dad is not so concerned with her well-being, just about shutting her up.  I don’t really blame him.)
“Aaaagggghhhhh! Thank you daddy, thank you! You won’t regret this, I promise,” she said, hugging him.  He hoped he wouldn’t, but somehow knew he would. 
I would too, considering Tatum almost died of excitement.  Why are the parents in my story so irresponsible?  He might as well buy the alcohol for her…though there ends up being no party in this story as a result of a serial killer stalking Tatum and her friends.  Also, this is the last we hear of Tatum’s parents, meaning that once everything starts to go down she apparently never calls to tell them or they just don’t care enough to come home.
Leslie walked over to her friends, Sarah and Mara.  They were sitting in the courtyard in the front of the school, with someone Leslie didn’t recognize.  (I love this abrupt shift from Leslie’s middle class apartment to the courtyard at school; it makes me feel like Leslie teleported to school.  She didn' far as we know.)  “Hey girl,” said Mara, waving.  Leslie came over and sat down.  (The “Hey girl” makes me cringe).
“Hey,” said Sarah.  “Have you met Jordan? She’s new.” 
Jordan smiled and said “Hi.” 
“Hi,” said Leslie, not really wanting to.  (Man, Leslie’s kind of a jerk…I like that because it means she actually has a little bit of a personality.  Tatum does too, though hers is sort of annoying already.)  She looked around. “Where’s Morgan,” she said. 
“Omigosh!” said Mara. “Haven’t you heard?!? Morgan is missing.  Her mom and dad came home this morning and she was gone. All that was left a burnt rag.”  (Whoa, Mara, you’re a little too excited about your friend being missing and possibly dead.  Maybe you’re the killer?  Also, there were seriously no other signs that Morgan had been burned alive?  The stalker must be very efficient…though he/she did leave the burnt rag behind, which was a misstep).  There was one thing Leslie didn’t like about Mara.  Mara loved to get her hands on a juicy piece of gossip, no matter who it was about, even if it was about her own friends.  (I was just thinking the same thing, which brings me to another question:  why, exactly, are you friends with Mara in the first place, Leslie?)  She beamed with excitement.
“Mara, you know what?” said Leslie.  “Morgan could be dead!  Don’t you even care?” she said.  Mara looked shocked.  Leslie knew exactly what she was thinking.  How dare she speak back to me? was what Mara was thinking.  Leslie stormed off without looking at her.  (I’m sort of impressed with Leslie for standing up to her friend, and she is currently my favorite character.  Because of this, I know she’s doomed.)
Leslie was almost to the door when Jordan ran up behind her.  “Hey!” she said. 
“What? Did Mara send you,” Leslie snapped. 
I think Leslie has some anger issues…maybe she’ll turn out to be the killer?  That might actually be interesting, if it turns out that Leslie is some reincarnated witch who has untold powers beneath her angry demeanor.  Maybe she doesn’t even know about them and/or can’t control them, like Carrie White or something?  That would be sort of cool, if not slightly plagiarized, which means it’s not going to happen.  Not because it would be a mild case of plagiarism, but because it would actually be somewhat interesting, and that wasn’t my style.
“No, no,” said Jordan.  “I think what she did was totally uncalled for. I mean, she’d supposed to be Morgan’s friend, right?”  (Wow, these characters seem to exhibit slightly more intelligence than the protagonists of my last story.  I’m impressed with my young self.) 
Leslie nodded her head.  “Finally, someone who agrees with me,” she said.  She looked at Jordan.  “Hey, where are you headed next?” she asked.  “Um…. History,” she said, looking at her schedule.  “Hey, me too,” said Leslie.  “We better get going, today we start the segment on the Salem Witch Hunt.”  (Do you ever notice that on television shows and movies, all the main characters seem to have class together?  Well, that happens all the time in this story, rather unrealistically.)
            So this concludes our first entry in “Salem.”  At this point, I’m going to give some of the characters the benefit of the doubt and assume that they’re not total morons.  Sadly, others have already failed miserably at getting me to actually care about their fates (I’m looking at you, Tatum).
            Next time:  Suspicions arise about Jordan, Adam saves his classmates from a mysterious fire (after nearly killing them and himself), we learn of plot to cover-up Morgan’s murder, and another character dies.  Sadly, it’s not Tatum.  I really don't know why all of my lead characters are so annoying (remember Faith everyone?).
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