Friday, November 02, 2007

The Stones Have Minds

This is actually the original version of the story, but rather than try to edit two copies of the same file, I'll just link you to the most updated version.

Jack picked up a smooth, round stone on the river bank. “This will do!” he shouted to his friend, Lydia. She looked on in amazement as he flung the pebble across the water and watched it bounce on the little splashes it made, leaving a trail of ripples as it went.

“One, two, three, four, five, six...,” she counted to herself. It sunk in on the seventh. “Wow,” she said softly. “How did you do it?” she asked with excitement.

“It's easy!” he replied. “Watch.” He picked up another skipping stone, a little better than the first and managed to skip it eight times.

“Oh!” Lydia exclaimed. “Let me try!” She picked up the first stone she saw and threw it into the pond. It dropped in and sank straight to the bottom. Her eyes lowered in disappointment.

Jack chuckled, “No, no. You have to throw it out sideways. Kind of make it skim along the top.” He added, “You should also make sure you have a good rock. Smooth and round.” He searched the ground a bit. “ this one!” He picked up the perfect stone. As he drew his arm back, he stopped. Did he just feel it shake? No, he must have been imagining things. He tossed it out, watching it go...four, five, ...wait, what was it doing? It looked like it was making a circle! Seven, was! Lydia looked on in excitement, but Jack was horrified! Stones shouldn't come back! At the tenth skip, the stone was at his feet again. Jack's mouth dropped open in surprise, and when Lydia looked up at him, her jubilation faded, leaving open a door for worry. “What's wrong, Jack?” she asked with concern.

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“Stones shouldn't do that,” he whispered. Jack lifted up the stone again. Once again he felt it shake, only this time he was sure he wasn't imagining it. “Lydia I think this stone is alive or something. It's shaking! I can feel it!”

She let out a little yelp followed by, “Throw it away, Jack!”

He threw with all his might, but the third stone came skipping back. “I didn't even skip it that time!” he cried. And it was true; he had thrown it out expecting it to drop straight in, but the stone had bounced as if the water were a trampoline and skipped nine times back to him, once again landing at his feet on the tenth. Jack stepped back, saying “Stones shouldn't be alive like this.” Lydia stared silently and nodded. “Lydia, we should go.” Again she nodded. But as they turned, the stone jumped in front of them. They both let out a little scream and jumped back. It shook again. Then suddenly there was an ear-splitting crack and where the pebble had been now stood an unearthly creature with two muscular legs that ended in claws, a small, beady eye, and smooth, gray, leathery skin. It had no tail or arms, but its mouth was reminiscent of a velociraptor’s. It opened its mouth wide and let out a shrill squeal.

Jack and Lydia’s mouths fell open in shock. The monster stepped towards them and squealed again, louder this time, and then lunged toward Jack, mouth open. Jack quickly moved aside, just missing being chopped in half by its teeth. “RUN!” he yelled.

The two children ran around the monster back towards the town, hearing the squeals of their pursuer right behind them, louder with each step. They entered the forest by the river and fled down the trail, dodging branches and trees as they went. But then, Jack tripped. “Don’t stop, Lydia!” he called to her as he fell. The monster was too close for her to stop and help him. It held Jack down with its leg as it bent down and grabbed Jack’s head between its teeth and pulled. Jack let out a blood curdling scream, which was abruptly cut off as his head was rent from his body. Lydia collapsed soundlessly onto the leaves blanketing the trail at the sight of her friend’s blood spouting from his neck and lost consciousness as the alien being stooped again for his right arm.

The grotesque animal, if it could be called an animal, finished its meal, crunching on the bones, cartilage, and all, using his blood to wash down the body, leaving no trace that Jack had ever existed. It nudged the comatose Lydia, breathing on her slightly as it did, before eloping back to the riverbank. There it made a horrible squeaking noise, like that of a balloon being tied, as it folded in on itself and squeezed itself down to the size of a pebble. A pop echoed through the air as its stone casing closed over it.

A few moments after the pebble clattered back down onto the rocky riverbank, Lydia's eyes fluttered open. It took her a moment to realize she was in some sort of eerily quiet forest somewhere on a surprisingly comfortable bed of leaves. Her head was throbbing, and she had no idea what she was doing there, but the silence was deafening. There wasn't even a flutter of leaves. The last thing she could remember was a large, satisfying lunch that her mom had made for her. But that felt like so long ago. Lydia rose to her feet with her hand to her head and slowly started walking away from the matted down leaves a few feet down the trail from her, confused by the strange feeling that something was missing.

I can't believe this came out of my mind. I was thinking I could do something with this before (between lunch and getting to the river) and after. After would be something along the lines of Lydia going to a psychologist and being forced to remember everything but no one believing her and instead accusing her of killing Jack. But I'm not sure I want to make this any more horrifying than it already is. Also, I'm not sure I could do it well before the lit mag submission deadline, if I decide to submit this.

Actually I decided I don't want to submit this. I want to make a real, developed story, first. Maybe I'll submit it next year (can I do that?).


Jeremy L said...

one thing that you definitely need to do is give us an idea of the size of the creature- we're led to believe that it sprung from a pebble-sized shell into its monster form, but you don't mention how big it gets. then you go on to say it eats Jack's head in one bite? it must have made a very big transformation then. we need to see that.

that's all i can say from first impressions, though

Ankit said...

I guess I should mention that it's head was reminiscent of a velociraptor's not only because of it's shape, but it's size, too. Obviously I wouldn't say just that, but the point is, the rock monster is the size of a raptor. It was a loud crack :P