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EF: Chapter Two
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Joined: 04 Mar 2008
Posts: 789
Location: Escaping the Hair Lair

Posted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 8:55 am    Post subject: EF: Chapter Two  

Chapter Two:

The afternoon sun had started to dip behind the higher buildings on the street, and the sky was blowing a cool breeze, if not an ill wind, as I waited outside the Coffee Nook. Eloise and Harrold were both due to meet me at any moment, and my nerves were afire even if my fingers were currently frozen. Me and Harrold in the same space, with only Eloise and a perfect stranger to prevent violence? I had my favourite steak knife secreted in my jacket pocket, and a pointy ended chopstick stuck inside my boot.

When a car door slammed around the corner, I lept into the air like a cat on fire. Perhaps I could pursue my dreams of joining Cirque du Soleil after all! My momentary good cheer floated off on the breeze as my brother came stomping around the corner. He was wearing a pair of pleated navy slacks, and a grey fisherman’s sweater, with those kind of clomping black dress shoes more often than not seen on the feet of undertakers and principals. I guess Harrold’s attitude fit right in. His sandy brown hair, grey at the temples and front hairline, was swooshed back in an “investment banker” type style, all secret hair spray and artful feathering. I hated it. Too fussy, prim, and overly-styled for my taste, especially on a man.. And especially on my least favourite sibling. His squinty hazel eyes bore into me as he closed the distance between us, only the slightest of shadows marring the left socket.

“Hi, Harry! Umm. Eye looks good. Perfected your use of pancake makeup, have you?” I have always found it hard to reign in my sarcasm around Harrold.

He opened his mouth to no-doubt bite my head from my shoulders, but Eloise was rounding the corner behind him, wrapped neck to knee in a pink and silver windbreaker, and he bit his tongue instead.

“Eloise! Long time no see!” I pecked her papery cheek. “So who is this crackpot we’re visiting?”

“Oh, he’s lovely! Just a dear, dear friend with a gift. A true Gift!” As she became more excited, you could hear the Winnie the Pooh Capitalization of her words, discussing her Magically Talented Friend.

I eyed the brownstone across the street, a little disappointed. I hadn’t exactly been expecting Hogwarts, but I had hope for something a little more interesting than slightly crooked blinds and window boxes. We crossed the deserted street, and were buzzed in by a fumble-fingered older woman carrying too many grocery bags. I held the door while Harrold and Eloise pretended neither of us existed.

Inside, we ascended the stairs to the top floor. This is how the universe lets you know it’s paying attention. No one you ever need to meet lives in a first floor apartment, or in a building with a working elevator. Just as no one will ever call you at home unless you’re in the bathroom. Our final destination was a non-descript door, with flaking brown paint, a peephole, and one of those combination door knocker-apartment number thingies you see in cheap motels. Number 302. Home of Norm MacNeil, Psychic Extraordinaire.

“Come on in, folks! The kettle’s on. Would anyone like some licorice tea? It’s great for flushing out those negative vibes!” An overly cheery voice guided us into the hallway, where I stopped to stare. Who was I kidding? This place was way better than Hogwarts!

A mishmash of craziness assaulted my senses. Somewhere in the rubble that passed as furnishings, a particularly unpleasant brand of incense was burning. I suspected it was a mixture of Glade air freshener and old newspapers. The once-white walls were stained with years of nicotine and other types of smoke, and were covered nearly floor to ceiling with pictures of anonymous smiling people posing with a chubby, hairy, caftan-covered neanderthal. Some frames were missing glass, some were cracked, one was duct taped together, and some photos were just thumb tacked directly into the drywall. I’m sure the landlord was in love with this dude.

In the little kitchenette corner to the right, we found our charming host pottering protectively over a kettle, setting out little dollar store china cups with his massive hairy paws. His long brown hair was pulled back into a little ponytail at the nape of his neck, and slipped down nearly to the waist of his mustard and black printed caftan. More necklaces than Mr.T could get away with clanked noisily against his barrel chest, some decorated with crosses, some ahnks, some pendants I’d never seen before. His hairy knotted legs poked out of the bottom of the caftan, crammed into a stained pair of birkenstocks- the size of which I wasn’t aware that they made. On his left pinky toe was a tin peace-sign toe ring. He was probably only 5 or so feet tall, but the bulk of his features, and the size of his hands and feet gave me the impression that Norm had, at some point in his life, been crushed by a boulder and turned into a human accordion.

“Oh, Norm! You shouldn’t have!” Eloise, almost dancing with glee, skipped past Harrold and I to join her friend in a tender moment, almost scalding herself on the tea-kettle in the process and actually giggling- GIGGLING- at Norm like the world’s oldest school girl.

“Howdy-do, Friends?” Harry and I shared a grimace, and allowed the behemoth to tenderly clasp our hands. “Let me give ya’ a gander into the Otherworld! Ellie, I knew when we met the other day that your Vibes would want to chill with my Spiritual Energies!”

I was handed a pansy shaped teacup filled with a stinking brownish liquid, and gulped the air. This could be my last chance at breath. Norm seemed more likely at this moment to poison me than Harrold. Old Harry wasn’t coping any better than I was, poking a finger into his tea to fish out a hair.

Norm led us into his overstuffed living room. His floral futon, overflowing with crochet and faux-furred pillows, was nestled between a somewhat miniature totem-pole, and a pair of equally ugly plush armchairs. The rose patterned carpet had a second braided rag rug atop it, and in the middle of that sat a tv-table with a crystal ball on in. Several mismatched wooden chairs struggled to fit around the table. He gestured for us to sit. Squashed knee to knee, we hunched around the tv table as Norm turned off the ceiling fan. Using just the light from the collection of lava lamps on his mantlepiece behind him, Norm sat, wrapped his ape hand around the base of the crystal ball, and began to hum. A soft grinding sound filtered through the air, and I stared at the mammoth psychic, before realizing it was Harrold gnashing his teeth together. Across the top of Eloise’s silver hair, my brother and I shared our first ever friendly look. We rolled our eyes at each other, and it was all I could do not to laugh.

Just as I was about to pass out from the stench of the incense, Norm began to speak.

“You have lost someone very dear to you. Very close. A guy... “

“YES, yes. My father!” Eloise leaned forward earnestly, her pearls almost brushing the crumbs from the table in front of her.

“I see he passed recently.. A great loss for you... he left many loved ones behind... a great age, a long life...”

“What else? How did he die?”

Norm shuddered and sweated behind the crystal ball, his hairy palms trembled as he swept them back and forth around the orb.

“I see... a hospital bed.... and a WARNING!!”

The tone of the psychic’s voice deepened into a roar, his caterpillar eyebrows scampering for the negligible safety of his receding hairline.

“ALL IS NOT AS IT SEEMS! SOMEONE IN THIS ROOM IS NOT TO BE TRUSTED!” With one last gasp, Norm seemed to drift off into a sudden slumber. Harrold snorted out loud, shoving his chair back with a clatter, and turned on the lights. Eloise sat poised in though on her rickety chair as Harrold paced back and forth.

“What a load, Eloise. You can’t seriously believe this charlatan? A hospital bed? We all know what happened to Rolph... when one dissolves into dust, there’s hardly reason to call on medical professionals.”

“And when did ANY of us ever describe our relationship with Rolph as “close”? I mean, please. We were all at least somewhat repulsed by the man. Genetic donorship does not a father figure make.” I rolled my eyes at my sister and looked to Harrold for confirmation.

Forcing a cheerful smile onto her thin lips, though her suddenly steely eyes pressed us for silence, Eloise gently patted Norm’s hand as he came awake. He blinked sleepily, wiping a strand of spittle into his already breakfast-filled goatee, and smiled.

“I hope I gave you a little salve for your Heartache, dear Friends.” Encompassing us all into a patchouli scented hug as he rose, and graciously accepting some folded bills from Eloise, Norm deftly drove us towards the door and out into the hallway. “I’ll need to nap for a while after this one.. Lots to ponder. Divine connections always make me sleepy. And Maury is on at 3!” The door slammed in our collective faces.

Once separate from her guru, Eloise seemed to deflate.

“I think perhaps you two are correct. His answers were vague at best, and seemed to hint at no one in particular. Obviously anyone elderly enough to be my father would most likely have spent time in a hospital room, and seeing how we appear to be three generations of a family, instead of siblings.. It makes sense that the ‘dearly departed’ would have had many loved ones. I’m sorry to have wasted your time.”

Before Harrold or I could make a move to comfort her, Eloise spun on one sensibly shod heel, and escorted herself briskly from our sight. I was sorry to see her go- sorry for her current snit of angst, and sorry that her departure left me alone with Harrold. My fingers twitched towards the steak knife as he eyed me suspiciously. Inside my jeans pocket, my cell phone lept to life, filling the already tense air with Iggy Pop’s lusting for life.

DP: SO? What’s next guys? Remember, there were several choices proposed by Bernice at the last DP too.... or we could do something totally different.
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Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Posts: 5215
Location: UK

Posted: Tue Apr 08, 2008 12:54 am    Post subject:  

A further demonstration of your skill at writing. I found this chapter just as good, with a couple of moments that again made me smile.

Given this rather strange meeting with the nutcase, ahem I mean Psychic, I don't think we want to considering facing our Mother after it.

Pending anything important concerning the phonecall, I think we should head to see Davis...

Quote: "Davis has a theory about Rolph’s death that might prove.. Um.. enlightening

Probably some mad theory, but might as well follow crazy with more crazy, get both options out the way together.

Happy Writing. :)
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Joined: 12 Dec 2006
Posts: 3998

Posted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 1:04 pm    Post subject:  

Hehe, Mother still fascinates me. I'd go for that for the DP.

And this story is fascinating too - although I was surprised to see Harrold turn up so suddenly. I may have been mistaken but I thought that Harrold was missing and that the previous DP was about finding out where he was.

The story is very descriptively rich, and it gives me the impression of every scene being crammed full of nick-nacks - from the intricately detailed patterns on wallpapers and floors to the complicated ensembles each character wears - even the large number of characters introduced into the story and their complex relationships.

Sometimes I find it just a little too overpowering, but that might be just me - don't go making any drastic changes.

Some advice I was given when working with a large number of characters, is to keep one or two memorable details about them to repeat to help jog the reader's visual memory now and again. Although the mention of her pearls helped, I had to refer back to the first chapter to remind myself of Eloise again.

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Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 8778

Posted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 5:26 pm    Post subject:  

Quote: Sometimes I find it just a little too overpowering, but that might be just me - don't go making any drastic changes.

D-Lotus would probably love this story though.

Anyway, good chapter there Skitty, liked the bit about apartments and elavators. Nice one.

Once again I find myself f5ing CF. I think it's time to see mother!
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Joined: 04 Mar 2008
Posts: 789
Location: Escaping the Hair Lair

Posted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:13 pm    Post subject:  

Uh oh! Better vote, guys! Otherwise I'm left to my own devices!
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Joined: 02 Apr 2008
Posts: 148
Location: Whitby, Ontario

Posted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:00 pm    Post subject:  

Hooray!!! I voted first (does the Cabbage Patch...sees that you are all looking at him funny...stops)

I voted for the real rason except I love that song and it caught my attention...Story is exciting so far...can't wait to meet the rest of the family!!!
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Mother Goose

Joined: 09 May 2004
Posts: 511
Location: Connecticut

Posted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 6:25 am    Post subject:  

I'll vote for the phone, too - surprise us!

Who is Davis?

Glad I stumbled on this story in one of my infrequent wanderings here; it's a good one, imaginative, insightful and amusing. But do me a favor and make your adjective agree: "Eterna Familia" please. Or even better Latin, "Familia Eterna". The other grates.

Good going; keep it up!
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Joined: 04 Mar 2008
Posts: 789
Location: Escaping the Hair Lair

Posted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 6:40 pm    Post subject:  

I'll give the poll one more day to gather whatever votes ye will, and then I'm going to town! :)
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Joined: 04 Mar 2008
Posts: 789
Location: Escaping the Hair Lair

Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 3:49 am    Post subject:  

alrighty, folks. Chapter 3 is in the works and will be here shortly! We're answering the phone..
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Head of the Guard

Joined: 17 Apr 2008
Posts: 14
Location: Guardhouse

Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 5:10 am    Post subject:  

agh... missed the vote. darn.

great SG. the thing with Harrold all of a sudden appearing was kinda confusing... but oh well. Like the whole "you die, but then you are immortal" thing that is going around. I probably would've gone to Davis, but the phone is the best choice for... like... stopping the inevitable confrontation for another chapter or two. once again, very good SG. cant wait for Chap 3.
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Posted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 12:11 am    Post subject:  

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Joined: 04 Mar 2008
Posts: 789
Location: Escaping the Hair Lair

Posted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 6:10 am    Post subject:  

Thanks for the crit, Zeph!

Please, guys. Don't hold back when it comes to constructive criticisms. This is why we all come to this place after all, right? So.. that's good! I DO tend to get a little wordy. It's sad, but I kinda talk like that in real life, too! So- all in the good! I'll try and reign myself in a little when it comes to prose, and don't worry- all your comments (and by "your" I mean all you lovely folk! CF, Smee... blah blah blah the Gang at large) have not fallen on deaf ears (maybe hearing impaired, though! It can take me a while to notice! ha!)- I will be digging deeper into the whole Harrold/Animosity/Murderous Rage thingy in this chapter.. which is why it's not appearing with my usual speed. I was so excited to get them to the psychic, I did indeed kinda smooth over the whole thing, although I was thinking that Europa and Harrold were holding it together in front of Eloise and the stranger..

okay. Enough! I go to write, I'll come back with more stuff.. .and yeah, this is my first attempt at writing, actually! That's what growing up with an English Teacher mother and a dad who reads the encyclopedia for fun will do to a girl. heh.
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