#1
True Story.

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The Mark approaches.
An unassuming worker drone humming homewards through an impossibly safe and twee, tree lined suburban landscape.
Picket fences cast shadowy arrows of vague direction onto the flanks of the setting sunlit road. Honeytrap blossom and petals perpetually flutter from the trees, dancing amid the day’s final dying orange light beams, before the darkness of dusk sets in. The place is quietly alive and warm with tranquil activity.
A small human voice chirps rehearsed and monosyllabic over the early evening sundown cooing of the wood pigeons.
This jolts the Mark’s attentions from the birdsong, and the Mecca like magnetism of his destination from behind the horizon.

“Scuse me squire, but could I possibly interest you in a few coppers worth of penny sweets?”

A white clothed table has been set up on the immaculately maintained driveway of one of the many semi-detached Tudors, concealed between eternally green and shapely hedgerows, until it slides into your periphery as you try to pass.
The call is unequivocally aimed at the only person strolling through the street, but everybody still double takes and points and mouths a silent “Who? Me?”
The table is headed by a small child; possibly seven or eight years old. His cheeky, gap toothed grin is disarming. His neat side parting and dirt and mucous free face are endearing, given the intensely grubby nature of most children.
Regardless of this, the rules of being wary of accepting sweets from strangers or goods from clearly unlicensed street vendors are deeply ingrained.
A smile and a shake of the head and a “No thank you” is usually the initial reaction. This is no real setback for the child as experience has taught him to save his big guns for when they are really needed.

“Are you sure? It’s for charity.”

His flawless and well practiced innocent facial expression adds an emphasis that is very difficult to ignore if eye contact is made. Most Marks can’t just simply walk away from such an emotionally bludgeoning gaze. Even a turned back is no real protection from such a well executed parting shot. Overall, the situation seldom goes any way other than intended.
Some people are unashamedly stone hearted, and will even grumble and possibly curse as they shuffle away belligerently believing that children should be seen and not heard. Most people however are totally caught off guard by the prospect of a youth-of-today, selflessly attempting to contribute to a society that has no respect, and very little real love for them.

“Well, I suppose I could take a peek at your wares, if it is indeed for charity.”

Says The Mark reaching for a change purse, dazzled by the altruism, mellowed by the end of a difficult day at work, charmed by the beauty of the wholesome garden surroundings.

“Oh, of course thir!”

Replies The Boy, grin widening, turning on a lisp and precociously understanding that charity begins at home.
The Mark steps onto the driveway and approaches the table, the child disappears under the tablecloth for a moment and returns with a handwritten menu and price list full of cutesy backwards lettering and fountain ink splodges and extraordinarily competitive rates for penny sweets.
The Mark peruses the dog eared list for a moment. The Boy sits, tiny hands clasped together on the tabletop. Smiling patiently and leaning in, eagerly awaiting the order.

After contemplating choklits and karrumells and wondering what a boyd swits was, a decision is finally reached.

“I’ll take a shiny shillings worth of rooberrb and custerds please.”

“Certainly sir!”

The Boy lifts the tablecloth and hurriedly vanishes beneath the table again only to reappear slowly and apprehensively moments later. A look of insular disappointment and failure etches deep lines into his young face and mechanical tears well up in his eyes

“I’m terribly sorry sir, we appear to be all out of rooberrbs and custerds…

The Mark naturally attempts to change his order to the choklits at this point, trying desperately to cut short this transaction and avoid upsetting a strange child outside his own house. The fundamental fear all good humans have of being the cause of a crying child overwhelms The Mark, leaving him unprepared for The Boys continuing patter.
His voice quivers. He blubs

“I can get more! I have them! I have a warehouse! It’s only over there! I wouldn’t want my customers to leave here unhappy! Please don’t tell the charity mans that I messed up because I ated all the rooberrb and custerds! I’ll show you I can get more! Please give me another chance sir, it’s just over here! I’m no two-bob swindler!”

He leaps up from behind the table and darts towards the road, then stops programmed and holds out a hand, enthusiastically waiting to cross.
The Mark, his better judgement scrambled by the apparent sincerity and maturity of the young salesman, chooses not to leave at this point, but instead to go along with the con, bamboozled into believing that he is nurturing the budding work ethic of a future righteous and fair doyen of society. He says

“Just over there?”

And The Mark looks left then right then left again and takes The Boys hand and they cross the road.
--------------------i'm definitely the alphaest male here--------------------
#2
They walk together for a few minutes, turning the corner at the end of the row of houses, and cutting down a side alley that runs behind an allotment. Poorly executed tags and bombs and piss-stains gradually begin filling the walls, weeds spring through neglected cracks in wonky pavestones. Broken bottles and eternal pothole puddles make the ground more and more treacherous.
The sun slides down the lower part of the canvas and peers over the horizon. Threats of red and blue seizures flash through uniform gaps in the fence as they walk through a time lapse slideshow of gradual decay. The Boy still grinning happily claims that their destination is “Just up ahead”, and they are “nearly there”
They arrive at the forecourt of some garages behind the alley. The Boy scurries kicking up rubble dust to a pile of boxes.

The Mark follows,
Far too involved to even consider walking away at this point.

“I Knew we had more, I knew it! Here’s your sweeties sir, I’m sorry it was so much trouble.”

The Mark relaxes. He hasn’t been too inconvenienced and he is helping to meet the often ignored charitibility quotas that society quietly demands. He is smiling, pleased with himself as he pinches aloft a shiny golden coin.
The Boys face doesn’t change, but his gapped grin turns sinister as he fixes doeish gaze as he snatches the coin and hands over a small and well used lumpy white paper bag


The sky reacts nastily to the fraying creased paper contacting the skin on The Marks outstretched fingers and clouds begin to form in the slowly purpling sky.
Nature operates on cue and The Mark is startled by a breeze that lowers the temperature, and a presence that seems to suck the pressure from the atmosphere, and pops ears and disorientates.
A number of hooded figures materialise from the long and angular pointed shadows cast by beer crates and wheelie bins in the imminent dusk. They rise buzzing like an approaching two stroke beehive. They Loom up like black smoke and surround The Mark. Instincts quickly twist The Mark to face The Menace as it solidifies, but the final struggles of the sun burn blinding coronas in irises, and peaks and hoods and the element of surprise shadow any distinguishing features. Luminous haloed edges. The paper bag, still scrunched tightly shut, falls to the floor. Then fade to black.
Bundles of horny rat tail tendrils flick and slither out from the empty outstretched sleeves of The Menace. They latch on to The Mark, the thorns easily piercing through his clothes and hooking deep into his skin as the tendrils continue to wrap around and constrict. Defensive arms are soon lowered by the tendrils looping and doubling back on themselves and the barbs begin to tear gaping chunks of flesh from The Mark. The Boy watches on.
Glands that line the thorns secrete potent neurotoxins that paralyse The Marks vocal cords causing his screams of pain and terror to be swallowed on his quickly swelling tongue. Two tendrils operate independently to the rest of the cluster, and rifle delicately and individually through his pockets alleviating him of wallets and jewellery and gizmos and anything of immediate value. The rest bulge and throb violently as harsh digestive enzymes pulse along them and spew through pores and cover and soak into The Mark. His skin begins to bubble and dissolve and peel away in thin curling layers. Great viscous blobs of bloody fat and pus begin to decant and fall away from his bones. Organs melt into muscle and drip away. Eyeballs burst and the skin on The Marks face evaporates.
The Menace makes no sound, and The Mark can only manage soft grunts and gurgles as his various systems lose all structure and integrity, and he wastes away to nothing. The ‘shclup’ ‘schlup’ of gooey hunks of protoplasm falling to the dusty cracked concrete is the only sound that bounces off the surrounding rows of aluminium rolldowns. It doesn’t take long before most of The Marks mass is sluiced away and everything of use is absorbed and the bones are left clean and standing in a thick and slowly moving puddle of gore, still trying to scream.
The greasy business suited skeleton twitches, held up only by the flailing tendrils gripping ever tighter. Its shakes and spasms increase in speed until it bursts into blistering white magnesium flames. The scene is illuminated in greyscale as the final remains of The Mark burn away and crumble to ashes. Dark has fallen. The Menace retracts the lashing tendrils back into polyester sport brand sleeves and slinks brazen and silent back off into the shadows to spend its ill gotten gains and fence the gadgets and trinkets and then move on and find or participate in some other, even darker, more sinister night time bunko or flim-flam. The Boy laughs. He just enjoys the thrill of it all. Happy to be involved, and happier still with his small cut of the proceedings. The Boy picks up the paper bag and puts it back with the others in the boxes. He looks happily at his shilling for a while, then pockets it and picks up a wooden stick that he clacks along the fence as he heads back home. He isn’t supposed to be out after dark.
The Marks fate will be mourned by few and understood by even less. Most will blame society’s ills, some might ignore the underlying issue and pass the instance off as a fluke or “wrong place wrong time” situation. The simple fact is that The Mark disregarded a notion that was forced upon him from childhood, something he apparently never fully managed to grasp the gravity of. He ignored dictated old rules for new methods of thinking He chose to forget something deeply ingrained in the hope that forward thinking might further civilisation in some small way and it cost him dearly.
It is deeply ingrained, and not without good reason: Never take sweets from strangers.
--------------------i'm definitely the alphaest male here--------------------
Last edited by FunkasPuck at Jun 13, 2010,
#4
I love how the story feels surreal from the beginning and then the surrealism manifests into actuality and you can feel the emotions through the events as they unfold. It's like a modern day Grimm fairytale and I loved it.

I particularly liked the language you used, from a writing point of view, as it gave this a very storytelling kind of feel that suited this perfectly.
This is not a pipe
#5
Although some of the wording was just a bit too wordy for my tastes, this is an absolutely beautifully written story
#6
thankyous.
i agree, some of the sentences do get a bit too long. always threes. always...
--------------------i'm definitely the alphaest male here--------------------