Little Penny

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“I may be a criminal, but leaving her behind is by far my worst transgression to date.”

-A snippet from our currently work in progress. Coming soon!

Turner

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Merry Christmas

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In the spirit of Christmas, I decided I needed to write something that encompasses the holiday spirit! Nobody loves Christmas as much as Spring does in this new piece. Enjoy.

(Warning, there is some foul language.)

-Turner

The tree was glistening, the lights flashing in an organized rhythm. Blue. Green. Red. Blue. Green. Red. The stockings were hung on the fireplace mantel, arranged by age and size. Mom. Dad. Hunter. And me, Spring. The milk and cookies were placed on the traditional Christmas plate my grandmother had given us when we were just babies. It looked like a Christmas magazine spread.
It was perfect, a flawless family holiday. Oh how I’d been wanting one for so many years. Ever since Hunter moved away for college and Mom and Dad started fighting, it hadn’t been like this. Each year I would call, stop by, hope that the decorations would be hung, that my mom would ask me to come over and bake her special Christmas cookies. Each year that I was denied, that my Mom said she was too busy, that there was no point and that I should have fun with my friends, a part of me would crack.
My brother was too busy with his college buddies and drinking to even answer my calls, my family had fallen apart. My father was always in his study, a strong glass of whiskey beside him, while he chatted with other women online. They thought I didn’t know about all their indiscretions, but I did.
But this year was going to be different. I decided I’d hang the decorations myself. Exactly how mom used to do. I baked the cookies in my mother’s oven, making sure they were just right. I poured just the right amount of milk for Santa. The presents were carefully placed under the twinkling lights. Everything was perfect.
I took in my masterpiece once more before a moan behind me broke my concentration.
“Mm, ahh!” My mother calls from behind her duct tape. Her blue eyes frantically searching mine. Her blonde hair pressed against her cheek from the sweat beading down her temples. I kneel in front of her and push the hair behind her ear. Her breaths are coming in pants as she tries to communicate with me. I shake my head at her, it’s not time yet. It isn’t midnight, it isn’t Christmas yet.
Movement to the left of Mother. My father, wiggling his hands, attempting to free the zip ties I’d placed on them. I know it must hurt, I don’t want to hurt them. I just want to be a family again. This is the only way. Mother looks into father’s eyes, tears falling from both. I think this is the first real emotion they’ve shown one another in years.
Lastly, my brother, Hunter. The brother I haven’t spoken to in almost six months. A brother who posts photos of himself with different girls every night, drinks and drugs in his system. Ignoring what was happening to our family. Ignoring his sister as she spiraled into loneliness. The duct tape I placed on him is barely allowing him to breathe. Bright green ecstasy pills I shoved into his mouth, telling him to not swallow. He needs to learn constraint. To abstain from the evilness of drugs.
I look up at the ticking clock, only eight more minutes til Christmas. A giddiness builds inside me. I look back to my family, who are all panting, sweating and eyeing me like I’m crazy. Frankly, I’m the one sane one in this family. I grip the kitchen knife harder in my hand, wishing time would move by faster. I look out the window, the snowflakes falling in the lights reminding me of when I was a child and would stay up to watch the white blanket covering our small town.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” I say, to no one really. Whimpers escape my mother. “Christmas is the most joyous season, wouldn’t you agree?”
My mother shuts her eyes tightly, her chin falling. I leap over to her, grabbing her chin and pulling her face to mine. “Wouldn’t you agree, Mother?” I ask politely. She nods frantically. Sobbing behind her gag.
I nod back, giving her my best smile. I walk into the kitchen and check on my punch, a family recipe. I take the large ladle and make sure all the pills I’d put in it earlier are dissolved. Almost there, perfect.
A crashing sounds sends me into the living room. Hunter has somehow escaped his duct taped hands, and is now pulling the tape off his mouth.
“You crazy bitch!” He spits at me. I take a deep breath and hold the knife up for protection as he comes towards me.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing? Jesus Christ, Spring!”
“I had to!” I sob, holding the knife out farther, halting his movements. Mom and Dad are now frantically trying to escape, eyes darting between their two children. “You don’t understand. Our family was falling apart!” I cry, a tear escaping my eye as well.
Hunter takes another step towards me and I slash the knife in front of him, he jumps back, his hands out in a soothing gesture. “Okay, just…let’s just put the knife down, Spring. Okay? We’ll put the knife down, let Mom and Dad out, and we can celebrate Christmas.” His head turns towards the clock. “Only four minutes left, right?”
I check, he’s right. Only four minutes. Maybe Hunter is right, maybe everyone is ready to celebrate Christmas. “O-okay.” I stutter.
Hunter lays his hand out, palm up in front of him. “Just, pass the knife over, okay?”
I grip it tightly once, before letting it go in his hand.
He takes a step back, towards Mom and Dad. “I’m just going to let them go, okay? Just so we can be together.”
Together. That is a nice word. Soon, we’ll be together forever.
“Oh, thank god.” My mothers voice rushes out, pulling Hunter to her and gripping his cheeks as she cries.
“Jesus.” My father mutters, pulling them both into his body. Protecting them, from me. Don’t they see, they don’t need to be scared of me. We’re a family. I take a step towards them, wanting to be a part of it all. They hesitate, but allow me into their fold.
After a moment of bonding, they all let go. I can tell they are shaking and unsure what to do.
I look at the clock one more time. One minute, perfect. It’s time for punch and Christmas.
“I’m going to get us some punch. Then we can sit by the fire and open presents, just like we used to, right Momma?” I say.
She nods. “Right.”
I quickly head into the kitchen, pouring ladle fulls of punch into the crystal goblets we’d always used. All the pills are dissolved, they won’t even taste it. Soon, every day will be like Christmas.
“Here.” I say, passing everybody their own glass. My mothers sloshes in her nervousness.
“Spring…I, maybe we should talk about what’s happening here?” My father asks.
Anger rushes into me. “NO! No. We’re going to celebrate Christmas like a family, like tradition!”
“Okay…okay, but after. After we need to…”
“Not now.” I snap. “It’s time. Let’s count down?”
Everyone nods.
“Ten. Nine. Eight.” Dad starts.
“We all sip on zero.”
“Seven. Six. Five.” Hunter.
“Four. Three. Two.” Mom.
“One. Zero.”
Everyone sips.
Merry Christmas.

The Collected

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Here is a piece of our current work in progress, coming soon.

  • Turner Collins

I wasn’t naive as to why I’d ended up where I was. I knew the lifestyle I had chosen could land me here. I was aware that my choices, my mistakes, they all had consequences. I knew all this and somehow I had still believed that the group of people I had chosen to dedicate my life to would protect me from this fate.

I was wrong. So very wrong.

The small 6 x 8 cell that had been my home for the last six months was my price to pay for those mistakes.

-Dach, The Collected

The Start of Something

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I was only a young boy when they first came to me. I was supposed to be sleeping, but instead I had my flash light on under my covers reading my favorite comic book. If my mom knew, she’d tan my hide. But I did it anyways. If I had been sleeping…I doubt they ever would have found me. But I had to know what happened to my favorite characters. Did they defeat evil? Did they lose their damsel?
I never found out.
Now I live in fear, for every day when I lay in bed she comes to visit me. With her three other friends. The most beautiful sirens I have ever seen, except it’s not real. None of it is. I lost track of reality that day as a young boy with a flash light.
I’m now a shell of a man, a man who has to sleep with the lights on.
It’s pathetic really. I mean…they have to be a figment of my imagation. There is no way three raven haired women come into my room every night to taunt me. To feed on my soul.
Or do they?
God…the confusion is the worst part.
My parents never believed me. They told me it was a nightmare, it was in my head. They took me to the best doctors in town for them to say the same things. Sooner or later I realized my best bet was to agree with them, to not tell them that it was real. That I had the scars to prove it littered around my body. They became a shameful secret. I was a shameful secret. My mother and father never told anyone what was happening to their son, they simply pulled me from school. Told their friends I was out, or I was sick and that’s why I wasn’t around.
When I finally finished my schooling, I packed my things in the middle of the night and left. I was hoping that maybe if I left that house…the four women wouldn’t follow. But they did. And now they’ve got me trapped down here…because they no longer simply come at night. Now that I’m alone? They come whenever they feel like it. They’re going to kill me. I know they are, I can see it in the gleam of their eyes as they stare at me. In the pitch of their laugh as they taunt me and ridicule me. Telling me that time is running out to be a good boy.
I’m not a boy, I’m a god damn twenty-four year old man, but you’d never know it.
Hell, maybe I’m already dead. This is hell, it just has to be.

 

-Turner

Scars

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My body wasn’t the same anymore, the scars and silver lines providing a constant reminder of the thing that I lost, that I could never get back.
I ran my finger along the largest one, stretching from my navel to pubic bone. Mesmerized by the silky feeling of it. I’m not sure how long I stared at the mark, imagining my life as something different before he entered the room, silently and reserved, as he always was.
“You’re beautiful.” Is all he said. I don’t look up, not wanting to see the look of longing and loss on his face. I see it enough in my own. Instead, I pull down my top, hiding the marks of her life from us both. It’s only a nasty reminder and I’m not even sure why I continued to torture myself. Maybe because I deserved it.
I finally turned toward him, my husband, Ben. His eyes traveled up my body, landing on my own. His dark scuff perfectly sculpted, his even darker hair coiffed on top, dark brown eyes with just a hint of amber in them. He was a beautiful man, he gave me a beautiful child…and I took it away from him. I’m not sure how he can stand to look at me with anything but hate and regret in his eyes. It’s why I shifted my gaze away almost instantly. I knew I was pushing him away, but it was what he needed but hadn’t yet realized. He didn’t deserve a wife who couldn’t bare children, whose body killed innocent souls. I was evil. He was angel.
I sat down on the edge of the bed, playing with the frayed edge of shirt. Much like my life, it too had begun to unravel. The bed dipped beside me as Ben sat down. His hand grasped mine, pulling it away from the wayward strand.
“It’s okay, Hannah.” He said simply, with comfort. I didn’t feel it though, I couldn’t. He didn’t know what he was saying, it would never be okay again. I ripped my hand from his.
“Hannah…please. I’m your husband, I’m here for you but I can feel you pulling away from me.”
I shake my head, letting my blonde hair fall over my eyes, sheilding myself from him. “It’s not okay, it will never be okay…I’m..broken, useless.” I finally admitted.
His calloused finger gently pushed aside a lock of hair, relocating it behind my ear. “Never.” He whispered against my cheek, his warm breath ghosting across my face. His lips gently ran back and forth over my heated skin. A warm hand engulfed the other side, pulling me toward him. I tried to close my eyes, avoid the connection, but he didn’t allow it. “You are the most beautiful, couragous woman I have ever met. I don’t want to hear you ever speak about yourself that way again, Hannah.”
I scoffed, not wanting to believe anything he was saying. After what I did…what my body did, I could never believe that. “What about Julie, Ben? I killed her. I killed our daughter.” I spit at him, he flinches but his eyes don’t waver, I wish they would. I wish he would give me just a little bit of vulnerability I could feed off, so I could save him…

To be continued.

Turner

Story excerpt

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Here’s another glimpse into Erika’s run ins with the body in our current work “The Collected.”

 

Dach’s body chuckles, drawing back from Mabel. “Hello little haunter.”
I stare at the body in stunned silence. Had he heard me? How is that possible?
“Leave Mabel alone,” I say, setting my jaw.
“And what if I don’t?” The body turns and watches through its wavy tendrils of hair. Its eyes have the glean of a cat’s, curious and knowing.
“I… I’ll get an orderly’s attention, bring them here. It wouldn’t be hard.”
The body looks to Mabel then stands from the bed, its gown making little crinkling noises. “You’ve made quite the reputation for yourself here, haven’t you?” I don’t say anything. It grins and walks slowly towards me. “Tell me, how does it feel to have been trapped here for over thirty years, to spend your days walking around aimlessly, collecting trinkets? To be here so long you don’t even notice the days pass anymore. To lead a meaningless existence.”
“Shut up.”
It gets closer still. “What’s it like to be nothing?” It waves its arm, passing it through my midsection. A cold wave ripples through me. “To be a whisper in the wind?”
“I said shut it!” I take a step back, out of its reach, and stare up into its eyes. “I am not nothing. I may be dead, but at least I don’t go around trying to kill other people. That’s something crazy people do, so maybe it makes sense you’re in here.”
“Crazy people,” his lips twist around the word ‘people’ and make it sound like a curse. “You were one of those, weren’t you?” It leans closer as an ugly grin overtakes its face. “Say hello to Dach for me.”
And with that the body breezes out of the room.

-Collins 

Story excerpt

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“So how was Ginny Walsh’s birthday party?” Mama asks the twins.

 It’s dinner time and everyone is clumped around the small kitchen table. Pops sits at the head, the twins to his left, mama and then me on the right. Voices and laughter can be heard coming faintly from the television set in the living room. Mama had asked Joy to turn it down when dinner was being eaten, so we could talk about how our day was.

  “It was great,” Judi insists.

 “Ginny’s mother hired a clown and a small petting zoo,” Joy adds.

  “What a waste of money,” Pops mutters in disgust as he ladles more gravy over his mashed potatoes. My mother ignores his comment.

  “That sounds like a lot of fun, girls.”

 Joy and Judi exchanges glances before Joy irrupts into giggles. “The best part of the whole party was when Tommy Harrison got his finger stuck in a snapping turtle’s mouth.”

                “He screamed and cried like a little girl until the zoo keeper came and took the turtle off,” Judi laughs. “He went home early he was so embarrassed!”

  Mama’s lips turn up at the corners, clearly suppressing a laugh of her own. “That poor boy, I hope he’s alright.”

 “He won’t show his face at school for at least a week I bet you,” Joy says.

  Judi grins. “I bet two weeks,”

 “You’re on. This is a sucker’s bet,” Joy crows, shaking Judi’s hand.

 Pops rustles the pages of a newspaper as he folds it in half so he can read the sports section while he eats. Normally he doesn’t participate in family discussions, and tonight is no exception. I figure it’s because once he comes back from plowing and harvesting and everything else, he’s too beat to do much else but sleep. But I don’t mind that all too much, since recently it seems that whenever we do talk, it’s about his dislike of my vocational aspirations. I still love him, but just don’t see eye to eye like we used to. I lift a forkful of carrots into my mouth and chew.

 “You’re mighty quiet tonight, Benjamin,” mama says as she cuts her meat into small pieces, looking at me as she does so.

 “I’ve just had a lot on my mind, sorry.”

 Mama smiles at this. “I can only imagine. How was the orientation at the high school yesterday?”

 I cringe involuntarily, waiting for the fuse mama just lit to sizzle over to my father and explode. But he merely flicks his gaze to me once, then continues reading the paper. I guess it’s safe to continue. “This man named Professor Burgundy gave a speech all about the science program at the university.” I leave out the part about the scholarship application until things are more concrete. I pull the folded pamphlet from my pocket and hand in to her. “They have a field trip coming up in a week to check out the observatory on a guided tour.” I say, trying not to let too much excitement leak into my voice.

 Mama unfolds the pamphlet and reads it over. “This sounds like a wonderful opportunity Benjamin. Oh, it says here there is a transportation fee of fifteen dollars.” Her eyes drift downward and I know what she’s thinking.

 “Don’t sweat it, I’ve got some bread saved up.”

 She perks up a little. “Always so responsible.”

  “I forgot to mention that Peggy’s going to come with me.”

“That sweet girl is such a dear.” Mama’s eyes become far away as she begins to reminisce. “It feels like only yesterday you two were making mud pies together.” She blinks and looks over at me. “I’ve always liked her.”

 “Peggy and Benjamin sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!” Joy and Judi begin to sing at the same time.

 “Will you two little monsters cut that out? We are just friends,” I groan.

  The twins begin to protest and one of them mutters, “Does Peggy know that?” before mama hushes them. They lapse back into silence, glancing knowingly to each other.

-Collins

Story excerpt from our debut novel

writing

So with Unit 17 making its way closer to publishing, we thought we’d share the preface of the book with you all. If you have a chance, let us know what you think in the comments. It’d be much appreciated!

 

Preface
 
“Theo?”
I blink. “I’m sorry?”
The Director is watching the scientists go. He must have dismissed them while I wasn’t paying attention. “What did you think about the demonstration?”
“Oh. Um, it was interesting. I’m not sure why I needed to be here though.”
“A valid question,” Wolfgang chuckles, tilting his head. “I wanted to observe your reaction, along with hers.”
I ask curiously, “What was that going to show you?”
“Much. Tell me, Theo, do you care for Ms. Morris?” His eyes remain glued to my face. I feel like a specimen under a magnifying glass.
“I saw her around school,” I shrug. “I like her about as much as I liked any of my other classmates.”
Wolfgang nods to himself and strides a few feet away, his hands clasped behind his back. He stops. “I am under the assumption that she cares for you.”
“Why does it matter if she likes me or not?” I ask innocently.
“It makes all the difference in the world, at least that’s my theory.”

-Collins 

Get to know me

writing

Here is a little snippet from our new story The Collected, so you can get to know our antagonist “The body” a bit better.

 

Dach’s body chuckles, drawing back from Mabel. “Hello little haunter.”
I stare at the body in stunned silence. Had he heard me? How is that possible?
“Leave Mabel alone,” I say, setting my jaw.
“And what if I don’t?” The body turns and watches through its wavy tendrils of hair. Its eyes have the glean of a cat’s, curious and knowing.
“I… I’ll get an orderly’s attention, bring them here. It wouldn’t be hard.”
The body looks to Mabel then stands from the bed, its gown making little crinkling noises. “You’ve made quite the reputation for yourself here, haven’t you?” I don’t say anything. It grins and walks slowly towards me. “Tell me, how does it feel to have been trapped here for over thirty years, to spend your days walking around aimlessly, collecting trinkets? To be here so long you don’t even notice the days pass anymore. To lead a meaningless existence.”
“Shut up.”
It gets closer still. “What’s it like to be nothing?” It waves its arm, passing it through my midsection. A cold wave ripples through me. “To be a whisper in the wind?”
“I said shut it!” I take a step back, out of its reach, and stare up into its eyes. “I am not nothing. I may be dead, but at least I don’t go around trying to kill other people. That’s something crazy people do, so maybe it makes sense you’re in here.”
“Crazy people,” his lips twist around the word ‘people’ and make it sound like a curse. “You were one of those, weren’t you?” It leans closer as an ugly grin overtakes its face. “Say hello to Dach for me.”
 -Collins