CLOUDS
posted @ 8:47 pm in [ SPASMS ]

They seemed like perfectly ordinary storm clouds at first, rolling across the sky that morning like plumes of ink in water. It was when they covered the sky and blotted out the sun that we realized they were something different.

By midday, it was dark as midnight. People sat out on their porches looking up at the clouds and wondering what they were. That was when we could still see each other by artificial light, though.

The clouds were closing in from above, great sleeping beasts that sucked the light from the air and made the atmosphere thick and sludgy. People in tall buildings could reach out their windows and touch the clouds. It was like touching a fleshy sponge, they said, wet and clammy and soft.

Like touching the dead, one woman said.

The clouds interfered with satellite and radio signals. Cell phones, radios and televisions were all useless. Even cable signals were deadened by the clouds, once they reached the tops of the telephone poles. Electricity went out soon after. We were enveloped in quiet, empty darkness. The clouds were obliterating everything that ever had been, and all that would ever be.

That was when the fires broke out.

I remember seeing a man, stripped naked to the waist, carrying a torch and screaming as he ran down the street. Sweat glistened on his body, making his hair sticky. His eyes looked crazed, desperate.

Not long after that, perhaps five in the afternoon, the clouds reached street level.

Don’t breathe, they said. Government trucks showed up with gas masks and respirators so no one would have to breathe the contaminated air, but there weren’t enough to go around. Or maybe they didn’t get to us in time, I don’t remember—all I can remember from that point was getting my first gasp of the clouds and realizing it was soft and light and sweet-smelling, and laughing and laughing at how silly we had ever been to fear the clouds in the first place…

And then we all woke up.

Everyone awoke in their own beds, starting the day just as they would any other. I know I did. They looked and acted the same as they had when they awoke the previous morning, in perfect condition, except…

Nobody remembered the clouds. No one but me.

And when the clouds arrived again that morning, I was the only one who was unafraid.

Copyright 2005 Amy Frushour Kelly. All rights reserved.
Reproduction by any means prohibited without prior written consent.





HELP SPASMS WITH SOME ANSWERS
posted @ 5:37 am in [ On Writing and Creativity ]

I’m doing research on things people hate for an upcoming story. Please click on this link (the whole paragraph is a link), which will direct you to my five-question research poll.

Thanks!

xo, Amy





Protected: Chapter 16: A STAIN
posted @ 7:08 am in [ Snake & Freaky John Novel ]

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BUSINESS
posted @ 7:50 pm in [ SPASMS ]

Vincent turned to his wife in triumph.  “Irene!  We did it!”

His wife nodded in pride.  “Three generations!”

“As of today, it’s been six years.”  That was their goal.

Irene bounced up from her stool and wrapped joyous arms around her husband.  “Darling, I have never been happier in all my life.”

He leaned down to kiss her.  “Let’s celebrate.”

For fifteen years, Drs. Vincent and Irene Lovell had been working in their basement laboratory on an anti-oxidant drug that rejuvenated tissue and prevented disease.  With her background in bioengineering and his in biochemistry, they were uniquely suited to the task they’d set themselves: to create an immunization against tissue breakdown that promoted longevity and possibly facilitated immortality.  In less time than they’d ever dreamed, Vincent and Irene had achieved the impossible.  This batch of test mice had lived exactly six years, without a single one falling ill or requiring veterinary care.  The control group had all died within two years.  Naturally, more tests would have to be performed, more data accumulated and analyzed, but this was a true scientific breakthrough.  Data had been kept every day, videos had been taken of the mice, regular physical checkups had been done, DNA collected, progress graphed.  They had scrupulously observed the conventions of empirical data, and as a result, the Lovells had just accomplished one of humanity’s greatest achievements, with meticulous documentation . 

A knock at the basement door roused them from their triumphant reverie.  Vincent opened it to admit Irene’s brother, Ignatius.  “Am I interrupting something?”

Vincent put a proud arm around his wife.  “You know our experiment?  The one we’ve been working on for so long?”

Ignatius nodded.  “The mice die?”

“No!” Irene beamed.  “As of today, they’ve lived three times the normal lifespan of a mouse.  We did it!  We reached our target!”

Ignatius sighed heavily.  For years, he had dreaded this day.  He pulled out the gun he’d carried for the last four years and shot his brother-in-law, point-blank.  Irene gasped.  “Sorry, Renie,” Ignatius wept, and blew her away.  He took the fire extinguisher from the wall and emptied the tank on the mice, asphyxiating them.  Then he went to the Lovell’s garage and brought out the gasoline can Vincent used for the lawn mower.  Knowing fire always burned upward, Ignatius took extra care to pour all three gallons on every inch of the basement.

On his way back out the basement door, Ignatius lit a match and flicked it into the doorway.  The blast knocked him flat on the driveway.  Still weeping, he crawled back to the hearse, shifted into gear, and drove back to the funeral parlor.

He was truly sorry for what he’d done.  He’d tried to tell them ever since they began this stupid project, but they wouldn’t listen.  They brought it on themselves, he rationalized – they’d always known the mortuary trade was a very competitive business.  It wasn’t like he had a choice.

 

Copyright 2004-2006 Amy Frushour Kelly. All rights reserved. Reproduction by any means prohibited without prior written consent.





THE LAVATORY
posted @ 6:08 pm in [ SPASMS ]

The lavatory was unappetizing.  Not that a ladies’ room should be appetizing, but this one was clean in exactly the same way you wouldn’t want an operating room to be – all right at a cursory glance, but on closer inspection, hairs and smudges and all sorts of unsavories were in evidence.

Even the faucet on the sink was a trifle dubious in terms of cleanliness.  Ugh.  She pulled a paper towel from the dispenser and polished the faucet before touching it.  A steady stream of smoke poured from the tap, and a genie appeared next to her. 

“Thou hast released me from my bondage, fair lady!  My gratitude is thine!  I offer my humble servitude and three wishes as—”

She broke his nose with her clutch bag and ran from the lavatory, screaming.

 

Copyright 2006 Amy Frushour Kelly. All rights reserved.
Reproduction by any means prohibited without prior written consent.





SUGGESTIONS, PLEASE
posted @ 6:20 am in [ reader participation -SPASMS -two word ]

I’ll be writing today’s SPASM tonight, and I’d like your help! Please leave a comment of just two words (no more than two, please!) at the end of this post. When I get home, I’ll pick a comment, use that as my title, and write a story to go with it. The old “Two Word Stories” rules apply (here, in case you’re not familiar with the concept). 

Don’t worry about your words not being good enough, or whether they go together or whatever. Just try to avoid profanity and obscenity. I provide plenty of that as it is.

This’ll be fun!

xo, Amy





HEY, FOLKS!
posted @ 6:36 am in [ book -buy stuff -SPASMS -update ]

Hey, folks! Things have been happening at Castle SPASMS. Obviously, I’m writing them again, but there’s more:

1) I’m planning to self-publish a collection of about 200 stories. The stories are already written, of course, but there’s an actual designer designing the book, and I’m not sure how long it’s going to take. Even if it takes months, it will be worth it, because this lady is GOOD. I’ll keep ya posted.

2) I have a CafePress shop. I don’t think I ever mentioned that on LJ, because the shop is small and kind of sucky, but you can check out what’s there if you like: http://www.cafepress.com/spasmsproject.  If I get my act together, I’ll be updating the products to reflect www.spasmsproject.com instead of the URL for my LJ.  Anyway, if you’d like to buy a SPASMS mug or t-shirt, go for it. I’m thinking of buying a mug for my desk at work.

3) You might’ve noticed that some of the new SPASMS are a tad longer than before. I’ve always tried to stick with 500 words or less, but writing novels will tend to make you verbose. They’ll shrink to 500 as we go, probably. Think of it this way: More SPASMS for your money! Oh, wait. You don’t pay for these, I give them to you out of the kindness of my own heart! Well, just be grateful, then. 

Thanks to all who’ve been with me for the long haul (since 2004!) and thanks to my new readers. You guys rock. Go forth in triumph.

xo, Amy





OLGA’S GARDEN
posted @ 7:24 am in [ flower -garden -SPASMS ]

 

It snowed, but only in the front yard.

The back was a lush paradise of verdant grass and foliage. Cool, tropical-scented breezes tickled the leaves. Exotic orchids bloomed around the patio. A puddle near the back of the yard that had never dried from the previous year deepened, clearing and becoming home to koi and miniature frogs. A single lotus blossomed among the lily pads.

It had been a typical suburban garden until the new housekeeper came. Olga was Hungarian or Ukrainian or something. She barely spoke English, just like anybody else from the agency. Olga wasn’t a spectacular housecleaner. There were dust bunnies under the couches and trails of dirt below the cupboards. But the very day she started, a vase of flowers that Mrs. Belleci was going to throw away came back to life. Mrs. Belleci didn’t immediately connect the two events. She was more concerned with Olga’s substandard vacuuming.

Mrs. Belleci’s children were the first to notice the changes in the back. Her son brought an orchid in from the yard and gave it to her. Where did you get this, Mrs. Belleci demanded. From the yard, he said. Mrs. Belleci didn’t believe him, so he insisted she look. It hadn’t come together yet, and there were no signs of actual work—no shovel, no plant containers—but somehow, the yard was being transformed into a botanical garden.

Mrs. Belleci went to confront Olga. Clearly, this was why the housekeeper did such a poor job. Well, gardening was all well and fine, but Olga was being paid to work, not play with flowers. Olga said she didn’t go in the yard. She stayed in the house all day. To prove it, Olga showed Mrs. Belleci the soles of her shoes. They were clean.

Olga continued to work for the Bellecis, and the garden continued to grow. Autumn had arrived, but the trees hadn’t changed their colors. Leaves littered the street in front of the house, but it was still summer in the back. Olga went on a week’s vacation in November. The garden languished. Within minutes of the housekeeper’s return, the grass was green again. The neighbors’ yards were bare and frigid. It was January, after all. Mrs. Belleci’s yard was sunny and warm.

One day, Mrs. Belleci asked Olga to come sit with her on the patio. Mrs. Belleci gave Olga a glass of iced tea. When Olga entered the yard, the flowers opened.

You have a great gift, said Mrs. Belleci. You should not be working as a lowly maid.

I have nothing to do with this, said Olga.

I am going to remove the walls around my yard, so that our neighbors can see your work and appreciate your beauty.

I have nothing to do with this, said Olga. Do not tear down your walls because of me.

I must, said Mrs. Belleci. It is a crime not to share this.

The next day, a team of men came to take down the fences. By the end of the day, the snow had melted from the surrounding neighbors’ yards. By morning, the neighbors’ trees were budding.

Olga was suddenly very tired.

Mrs. Belleci made Olga lay on the couch. She rubbed Olga’s feet. The Belleci children brought Olga tea and chicken soup for strength.

By nightfall, Olga could barely find the strength to speak. I must leave, she whispered.

No, Olga. Please don’t leave. You make our home so beautiful.

I must.

The next morning, Olga’s room was bare. Mrs. Belleci and her children searched the house. Olga had gone.

The flowers by the patio were already dead.

Mrs. Belleci cried.

 

Copyright 2008 Amy Frushour Kelly. All rights reserved.

Reproduction by any means prohibited without prior written consent.

 





THE PERDIFEROUS GUEST (Explanation!)
posted @ 8:09 pm in [ perdiferous -SPASMS ]

Thanks to all who commented and e-mailed me reagrding this post. I was really tired when I posted it, and I neglected to mention that it was a standalone piece. We did two separate stories with the same title, which is why I captioned it “Take 2.” Here is the first. We didn’t post the second one because we weren’t sure whether to develop it further.

Anyway, glad people liked it! Sorry there isn’t a conclusion. Maybe there will be, someday.

xo, Amy





THE PERDIFEROUS GUEST (Take 2)
posted @ 8:27 pm in [ jam -SPASMS -tim_x ]

 This is a jam, written about two years ago, by [info]tim_xand myself. Enjoy!

From the journals of Dr. Henry Wilkes Tonnage III

 

My dear friend Howard,

 

I am delighted to hear that my latest missive finds you well, too many of our friends have dropped out of contact, the reasons for which run the gamut from mortality to geography. All that are left now, old friend, are you, Wesley Barr & I. Wesley, that old adventurer, is planning a trip back to the dark continent; a journey which you can be certain I warned him against making. Especially considering what happened when last we were there. Do you recall that night, Howard? That dark night of screams in the jungle? Of the things we saw, and of our damnable guest?

 

 

Henry, old friend,

 

It has been many years since that fateful venture, yet I recall it every day. I thank you for warning Wesley against repeating the journey; you may rest assured that I have just penned a missive cautioning him against the same.  I am not ashamed to tell you, Henry, that I have relived that horrifying night many times in my dreams. I remember the screams, old friend, but the memory that haunts me most is the recollection of hiding in the tangled foliage in ebon night, daring not to move, lest our guest perceive my labored breathing…

 

 

Howard,

I got a deuced chill when I read your words pertaining to that night.  I sometimes think, perhaps wish, that I had imagined it all, but holding your letter in my hands dashed me back into reality.  I paid a visit to Wesley’s estate, in one last attempt to persuade him from folly, but I’m afraid he has already boarded the Tramp Steamer “Obeisance” to Africa.  All is lost, I fear, for Lord Barr will go once more into that jungle seeking to claim what he believes is his by right…but it is that which will claim him, for it belongs only to our guest of that dark night of long ago.

 

 

DEAR HENRY STOP – HAVE OBTAINED TWO TICKETS FOR THE STEAMER HMS VICTORIA DEPARTING BLAKESHEAD TOMORROW MORNING STOP – MEET ON DOCK BEFORE BOARDING STOP – BRING YOUR RIFLE STOP – I SHALL BRING THE OBJECT WE TOOK FROM THE JUNGLE STOP

 

 

My dearest Mary,

 

When you read this letter, darling, I shall be on board the H.M.S. Victoria, headed east. You may contact me via the ship’s wire if needs must. Henry and I are returning to the jungle to save your brother, Wesley. My love to you and the children. There is a possibility I may not return…

 

My dear Howard,

It pains me to hear that, once again, my brother places your life in jeopardy.  I am not even certain that you will receive this letter before you leave.  Know that my heart goes with you and, should you fail to return dies with you in that forsaken jungle.

To: Quartermaster Jervis, Fort Britannia- Africa
From Dr. Howard Phillips

Mr. Jervis,

I am forwarding this request to alert you of my arrival, and request that you ready the necessities for my compatriot and me.  When I was last in your care I left a particular locked trunk in your storeroom.  Please have it cleaned and ready for me.  That is all.

 

 

Copyright 2008 Amy Frushour Kelly and Tim Mucci. All rights reserved.

Reproduction by any means prohibited without prior written consent.

 





GAHHHH!!!
posted @ 7:25 am in [ infection -rob -SPASMS ]

Rob has an infection and is on massive anti-biotics. The upshot? He’ll be okay, but I got no sleep whatsoever last night, and now I gotta get ready for work.

Hopefully tonight, after work, drum lessons and whatnot, I’ll write a SPASM.  Fingers crossed that I don’t fall asleep first!

xo, Amy





SON OF A GUN
posted @ 6:12 am in [ SPASMS ]

Thanks to Sue for the first sentence.

 

“The son of a gun is a bullet,” he says, cradling the revolver.

I don’t know what to say, so I don’t say anything.

He squints up at me, looking for a response.

“Okay,” I say. Lamely.

“In films, how many times have you seen the villain talk to his victim before killing him? Explaining what they’re about, giving some long spiel about the Bible or some such thing?”

“Like in Pulp Fiction?”

“Right.”

I swallow. It isn’t hard to see where he’s going with this. “A lot, I guess.”

He nods. “That never made sense to me. A hit man is hired to perform a task without calling attention to himself or his client. Why prolong the event? Why waste time on chat?”

What am I supposed to say? “Right.”

“I know now, of course. It’s a power trip. He’s not talking to the victim, he’s talking to himself. It’s a way to keep yourself from going crazy. That’s my theory, anyway. For the moment.”

I look down at my shoes.

“Then again, there’s the times when a hit man is a sadist, too. Some of us like to torture our victims. The rationale, I believe, is that the target’s not going to live, anyway. He’s dead the minute we lay eyes on him. He’s a toy now.”

I can’t look at him. And yet, I can’t not look. He’s still watching me, cradling the revolver. “You said the son of a gun is a bullet,” I remember. “What did you mean?”

“The gun is supposed to be phallic. The barrel. But think about it the other way. It’s a birth canal.”

“Oh.”

“Or put it another way. A gun is an intention.”

An intention. I shift; my body is itching with anxiety.

He checks the chambers to be sure the gun is loaded. “Don’t look,” he advises.

I blink. How can I not look?

“Please,” he whispers.

In the moment it takes to blink again, blood is spattered all over me. He’s on the floor. The right side of his head is missing. My ears are ringing. The gun is still in his hand.

Great. Now how am I supposed to get out of these ropes?

 

Copyright 2008 Amy Frushour Kelly. All rights reserved.

Reproduction by any means prohibited without prior written consent.

 





VERY WELL
posted @ 6:57 am in [ killer -middle ages -SPASMS ]

 

He had murdered two women already. It was difficult now to weigh his compulsion to kill against the widening police investigation. The urge to kill was mitigated by his instinct to stay alive and free.

Fortunately, the murderer was an intelligent man, a reader. He enjoyed books on history and science. He was also good with his hands. This all came into play when he hit upon his most brilliant idea: to build a time machine.

Feudal England—or, rather, Angleland— was the perfect place for him. No police force, no forensic science, fingerprinting, technology. Additionally, late Middle English was close enough to what people spoke in modern-day England that he believed he could get by. The possibility of killing an ancestor was remote, as his family hailed from Russia. The schematics for the time machine were downloaded from the internet. He gauged that he might be able to travel to the Middle Ages, but probably not back. That meant no toilets. No baths. No modern medicine, were he to be injured or fall ill. Very well, he would take precautions, get any applicable immunizations. True serial killers had to be perfect planners. His own case required a special kind of care.

It took years to build the time machine. During that time, the murderer schooled himself in the technology, trying desperately to engineer a method of return. He was growing older, and the thought of being stuck in feudal England at an advanced age with no medical care did not appeal much to him. Still, he held up his dream of finally being able to satiate his urges. That would have to suffice until the machine could be built and he could travel back and forth safely.

Finally, he discovered that while it was impossible to return from the past, it was possible to return from the future. This was because the future hadn’t happened yet, he reasoned, and this discovery agreed with current scientific theory. He was disappointed, but realized that he was, after all, in possession of a working time machine. He decided to write a paper and hold a press conference. Soon, he was a very rich, if somewhat old, man.

Years later, in his seventies, he decided there was nothing holding him back now. He was old, and he would die soon. Why not go back and satisfy his compulsion? He wrote a note, vaguely explaining that he was going back in time to fulfill a lifelong dream, and entered the time machine.

Instantaneously, he appeared in the middle of a street, crowded with serfs who immediately recognized him as a witch and stoned him to death.

 

Copyright 2008 Amy Frushour Kelly. All rights reserved.

Reproduction by any means prohibited without prior written consent.

 

 





LICENSE
posted @ 4:16 pm in [ SPASMS ]

Of the two sisters, Karen was the nice one. Marilyn was the one most likely to do something stupid. Which was exactly what she did, one too many times. When Marilyn was caught driving drunk, she already had a suspended license for exactly that reason.

Easy enough to solve, she thought. “Sorry, officer, I forgot my license. My name’s Karen Cauldwell, and I live at—” she was slurring, but sober enough to give her sister’s address.

The officer checked, and sure enough, a Karen Cauldwell matching the drunk’s description lived at that address. The face that came up on the computer screen was similar enough to that of the drunk, and the physical description—five foot six, brown hair, green eyes—fit. Marilyn was booked and fingerprinted under Karen’s name, and Karen’s license was suspended.

The first thing Marilyn did when she was released on bail the next day was go online to the Department of Motor vehicles site and change Karen’s address to her own. That way, the suspension notice would be mailed to Marilyn’s own home, Marilyn would pay the fine, switch Karen’s address back, and nobody would be the wiser. Karen wouldn’t get mad, and Marilyn wouldn’t get in trouble.

Except that the very day after her address was changed without her permission, Karen went to the DMV to renew her license, and found it was suspended. Angry, Karen paid the fine—she had to have a license, after all—and determined to confront her sister.

But a couple of bad checks Marilyn had written caught up with her, and she left town, pronto. Karen arrived at Marilyn’s apartment, only to find her sister gone.

Well. Time to play a little identity theft herself, Karen mused. Her husband had ruined her credit before their divorce. Marilyn had just been given a credit card by some credit company who wasn’t paying attention. Karen went through the unopened mail, found the card, and decided the American Express card with the $5,000 limit was payback for the fine.

But Karen was basically a decent person. She could never let a bill go without paying it. In no time at all, Marilyn’s credit rating had skyrocketed.

A year later and several states away, Marilyn developed a drug habit. Inevitably, she hit upon the idea of calling up for a credit card. She was astonished to be awarded a $14,000 card with no questions asked.

Karen was disappointed, but not surprised, to find the credit rating she’d worked so hard to establish dropping before her very eyes. It wasn’t difficult to track her sister down in Nevada. Karen didn’t bother contacting Marilyn to let her know she was in town; she simply waited in the dark alley behind the diner where Marilyn worked, with the engine running. When Marilyn came out from her shift, Karen floored it.

Afterwards, Karen took the new credit card and ID card from Marilyn’s wallet. She put her own driver’s license in its place and drove away.

A crackhead came upon Marilyn’s body a short time later. The woman wasn’t too strung out to take Karen’s driver’s license and the cash.

That license sure would come in handy.

 

Copyright 2008 Amy Frushour Kelly. All rights reserved.

Reproduction by any means prohibited without prior written consent.

 

 





THE GREAT MESMERO
posted @ 8:14 am in [ hypnotism -SPASMS ]

 

The Great Mesmero entered the room and spoke to the young woman sitting at the computer. “You have not vacuumed, I perceive.”

She turned in her chair. “No. I was over at the next-door neighbor’s all morning. Lucky for you, she’s not going to press charges.”

The Great Mesmero smiled and made a small gesture, as though he were wiping something away. “But of course. That is to be expected, my dear.”

“Not forever. Post-hypnotic suggestion doesn’t last too long. I had to promise her you’d fix the broken tread on her front steps before she agreed not to make a fuss.”

The Great Mesmero turned to look at Gail. “I didn’t break her steps. I never even entered her yard.”

“I know, I know, all you did was work in the garden naked and convince her that you were really wearing clothes. I get it. Kinky, but you didn’t hurt anybody. The thing is, she remembered after a while. She was in the house, doing some dishes, and suddenly realized you were out there in your birthday suit, and that’s when she started screaming. But she’s okay now, and like I said, she’s not pressing charges.”

The Great Mesmero stroked his goatee thoughtfully. “Perhaps I should pay her a call.”

“Perhaps you should wear pants when you go outside! Geez!”

The Great Mesmero patted her shoulder. “I shall endeavor to remember. The mere fact that I did such a thing really does, in your parlance, suck. But I shall make a clean sweep. You do not need to—”

“I don’t vacuum, Frank. Administrative assistants don’t clean. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to finish answering your fan mail. Oh, and we might have a gig in Finland. Hopefully we’ll hammer out the details this afternoon.” She glanced down at her desktop and saw the envelope. “And another thing. The blank pieces of paper won’t work on me. I want a real paycheck by the end of the day, or I walk.”

The Great Mesmero nodded, embarrassed. It was rather unfortunate that his new assistant wasn’t susceptible to suggestion.

 

Copyright 2008 Amy Frushour Kelly. All rights reserved.

Reproduction by any means prohibited without prior written consent.

 




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