Little Red Balloon

I’m not sure what made me write this short story; I had just finished reading “IT” by Stephen King, and I was feeling particularly inspired. I guess this could technically be interpreted as an IT fanfiction, but I personally believe this piece goes beyond that – an amalgamation of what King gave us in the novel, and my own take on the character of Pennywise. I hope you enjoy, and I deeply encourage you to go and read King’s novel – it is truly a modern masterpiece of writing.

 

 

1
     It was cold that evening. Although this was not unexpected (it was early September and the frost had yet to fall off of the gum trees outside), Edward’s spine tingled with unease. He looked over to the window residing across the room. Bolted firmly shut, the ugly floral curtains which covered the glass stood still, the roses embroidered on their front looking old and faded, barely discernible beneath a thick layer of dust. Edward twisted on his second hand sofa which barely held enough room for one person (he also suspected the couch of being the home of a dog in the past, with dog hairs decorating the couch) and glanced towards the clock hanging on the wall. The clock, one of only a few things in the house that were of value to him, sat closer to four than three. A low ticking could be heard emanating from it, the only sound in the room apart from the low murmur of the television sitting on the opposite wall.
 Edward glanced back down towards his lap, and the book which had been occupying his attention until moments ago. It, by Stephen King. His thoughts drifted back towards one scene that seemed to have stuck into his mind like flypaper; Pennywise the Dancing Clown, holding balloons which floated against the breeze whilst standing downstream of the town canal. Edward shuddered at the thought.
     He had read enough that night.
     He gently closed the cover and stood up, the couch moaning in protest. He walked over to the quaint bookshelf standing underneath the clock which Edward had built himself, and placed the book gently upon the third shelf. The bookshelf housed Edward’s other favourite objects; over a hundred books, sitting in the shelf with no sense of order, yet not seeming out of place in the slightest. Everything Edward thought worth reading was housed here. Some of the books, like his copy of the hundred acre wood by Enid Blyton, had been in his possession since he was a child. He remembered vividly one occasion where he had been reading that book whilst the sun was setting outside his house. Back then, he had lived in France, and just out his bedroom window and over the street was a dark, looming forest which had frightened and excited him for as long as he could remember. He thought back to looking out and seeing one tree which seemed taller than all the rest, and though it was most likely fog hiding the top of the tree from view, it had appeared to go on forever. Edward smiled as he thought about that moment. He had ran downstairs to tell his mum, and when he had told her, she had given him a taste of the truth,
     “Edward, we’ve lived here for almost a year now,” she blinked slowly whilst leaning against the kitchen counter, the weight of the day already pushing here towards a deep and restful sleep, “And in that time, do you really think we wouldn’t have noticed a tree that went on forever?” she questioned.
     “No mummy,” Edward mumbled in shame. He was at an age where he believed his mum knew all the secrets to the world, and she could not lie to him about anything, even this. She reached down towards him with a smile,
     “now, what do you say we get you a hot chocolate and then you can hurry off to bed” she said as she stood up from the stool behind the counter. Edward nodded happily. His mum made the best hot chocolates, and he knew if he was good, she would pop in a marshmallow or two. After drinking the hot milk and kissing his mum goodnight, Edward proceeded back towards his room. He shook his head as he walked. Why had he thought that a giant tree had suddenly grown in the neighboring forest? He giggled to himself as he walked through the door, no longer scared of the thought of the Faraway Tree. He gazed out the window. The fog had cleared, and he could now see clearly that all the trees were the same height, and he laid back down in bed, forgetting about the book which had fallen onto the floor as he had repositioned himself under the sheets.
2
     Edward focused back on the world around him. A sharp tap on the window had dragged him out of the mist of his memory, and turned his focus to the misty glass window. Edward’s stomach began to flutter. “stop it, you idiot. The only reason you’re freaked out is because you just read that stupid book.” Edward shook his head and tried to laugh it off, but the restlessness in his gut would not cease. Edward took a deep breath and marched over to the window, determined to put his mind at ease so he could get a peaceful sleep. As he grabbed hold of the curtains and pulled them open, a thick plume of dust rose into Edwards face, forcing him into a coughing fit. He bent down and wheezed, racking harder than a life long smoker. After a good thirty seconds, Edward managed to regain some sense of composure, and stood straight. He gazed out the window into the fog. A misty form stood out in the distance, barely visible to his eye. Edward focused harder, the fear in his gut growing. Shifting and swirling, it was impossible to discern what, let alone who, was standing out there in the darkness thanks to the cloud. Without warning, a branch slapped the window in front of him.
     Edward gave a short cry and fell backwards. He swore under his breath, and began to pull himself up using the window pane as a stabilizer for his now shaking legs. His put a hand to his chest and felt his heart, which had already been beating faster than usual, racing. He shifted his gaze back to the figure in the fog. The fog had diminished, and now Edward could see that there was no one standing in the clearing. His heart began to settle, and he turned back to the room, determined to put this all behind him for the night and wake up with a fresh mind. He walked towards his bedroom, his legs still not entirely steady, when something caught his attention in his peripheral. He turned and gazed in horror at the bright red circus balloon, floating lazily on the back of his couch, moving back and forth like it was caught in a summer breeze. Edward backed away from the red monstrosity in front of him whilst suppressing the scream steadily rising in his throat, all the while forgetting to watch where he was walking. Suddenly, Edward felt his head connect with the floor. stars danced in front of his vision as he tried to see what had caused his sudden descent, but as his vision cleared, he turned his head to the clown towering over him, red balloons in hand.
     “Hey, Eddie. Nice to see ya!” It cackled with a hyena like wail, “I’ve been waiting for ya for while now, and i’m glad we’re finally getting the chance to a-ca-ca-ca-quaint ourselves,” he smiled, putting the horror that was his gaping maw on full display. What little teeth were left had nearly rotted away, but in there place, It had packed his mouth full of shining razor blades, the light bouncing off them like baubles a christmas tree. Edward sat there, numb with shock. Denial flooded his head as he tried to figure out exactly what was happening. Before he had time to react, It’s hand flashed out and grabbed his arm just below the elbow.
“Well Eddie, It’s been nice chattin’ to ya, but i gotta get me a going, you know the deal; places to be, people to see, and all that,” he wailed out in laughter, but just below, the sound of something else could be heard; hissing, like, well, like a balloon slowly being drained of its air. “Oh, and by the way, my name’s Bob. Bob Gray.” Edward began to cackle, his mind teetering on the edge of a blade, and soon he had fallen into a fit of hysteria. At that moment, Pennywise began to laugh, and in seconds, the room was filled with laughter. Not the laughter that follows a good joke; no, this laughter was more like the sort you might hear floating down the halls of a sanatorium after dark, the sound of a person beyond the point of sanity, locked in a room with white walls and white floors. Edward eventually silenced, his eyes darting around like a cornered animal looking for a way past its hunter. Eddie looked up at Pennywise, still laughing like a madman, and felt tears prickling the edge of his eyes. This set off a fresh bout of cackling from the clown.
     With a gaze that was leaning towards bored, Pennywise lifted Edward’s arm and tore it off at the shoulder like a drumstick being pulled off a chicken at Christmas. Edward gazed down at the torn patch at his side, and the arteries, now hanging loosely where his arm was only moments ago, blood spurting from him like water from a burst pipe.
     “Oh god,” Edward thought, “This is going to make a mess.”. He felt the front of his pants growing warm. In an instant, It unhinged his jaw and tore down into Edward’s exposed throat, pulling out his spinal cord in one loud rip in the same manner a dog might pull on a toy. Edward dropped to the floor like a sack of potatoes, his skull smashing against the wooden planks running the length of the room.  It took one look at the Mangled remains of him and continued his mad giggling. Gazing around the room with a final nod, It began to melt like a snowman under the sun, his liquid form trickling slowly into the floor until all that was left was Edward; alone, and very, very dead.
Oh, not to mention the red balloon floating back and forth, tied to the back of the sofa.

Title prompt: Surprise of Dawn, Edward Jin 12N

Author’s note: the writing prompt was to choose or generate a random title and base your piece on the word you get. My title was “Surprise of Dawn”. I hope you like my piece!!

______________________________

It jumps out of nothing, from the depths of the past it bounds out of its dark curtains and drags with it new possibilities. The echoes of the previous day disappear and another takes its place. The clock keeps turning, following the trails of time as it runs, and runs, about to reach its destination. A dull glow shines in the distance, becoming brighter the closer it gets, and when it does, a sudden jump! The sun takes its baton and leaps off the ground, amongst the cheers of the roosters’ call. It’s the start of a new day.

The people wake up from their innocent slumber and see the sight before them. They wonder what today will be like. No one knows what it contains, but it is mesmerising, and fills you with expectation and excitement, like a child about to open their first gift. It’s a jack in the box, ready to spring out, give all people a shock.

Such is the surprise of dawn.

Paintings of the West

In our last session, the prompt was to generate a book title and for you to write about it. The title I generated was “Paintings of the West,” and this is what I came up with, Hope you enjoy!

I wander through the sprawling hallways of my father’s castle and am entranced by the paintings lining the walls. My father has a long lineage dating back thousands of years and every grandfather, father and son who had ever had the duty of the Western throne stares down upon me. Their gazes are steely, eternally frowning and judging me as I walk though the halls, they are my past, and I their future. The faces all blur into a mess of colours, nothing more than vain attempts to preserve their legacy, a long line of imitators and frauds descended from Akron, naming every new suckling babe after him, as if that changed the greed in their hearts or the disaster they had brought the kingdom. Men of my family, they are all the same. Wine drinkers, and deer hunters. Gluttons and unlawful fornicators. They are the reason the Western kingdom yearns for the golden age of Akron, the real Akron while the pretenders all defile his name, claiming to finally be Akron reincarnate. The Lord’s servant come to bring the rains back. And every time the fools listen. The masses swarm to the coronation and pray that maybe for once, this King will be worthy of Akron’s name. Seventy six times their hopes have been crushed, and they return to their fields, praying the next King will be the one. Tomorrow, my brother will become King. He is Akron the Seventy seventh. King of the Western Kingdom and Lord of the West. Long may he reign.

There are no paintings of women, we do not have that honour. We are inferior to the male sex, and therefore unworthy of having our image preserved. That’s what my father always told me, and I had believed him. How could my father, Akron the Seventy Sixth, the one who was prophesied, be a liar? He protected me from the cruel peasants outside, and always gave me food to eat even in our Kingdom’s famine; my father was a provider and a righteous King. I still look back at that naive girl and wince, no wonder she has no painting on the walls. The walls which show every failed king and ruler. They are the paintings of the West.

TitlePrompt: London Fields

The vast expanses of the fields melted into the horizon, green hills indisingushible from themselves, their shadows unseen.

London was beautiful, compared to what it had been a thousand years ago. The sky hung green in the heavens, and the ice that used to hold the area at mercy during this time of year no longer dared come this far south- or anywhere at all.

January was a merry month, but the overwhelmingly green grass hid a bitter past, an ancient civilization.

Root of Fire

Sometimes I wish I had stayed awake that night
Now all the sleep I get can’t wipe the memory of that night from my mind.

That night
As I settled in for the night shift I sipped my coffee
The frigid winds
Blankets sweeping across the harsh mountainous land
And winter’s frosty arrows
Pierced the inky darkness outside

A confetti of snow and hail
Buffeted against the doors of the cabin
But inside
Darkness gave way
To warm
Soft
Fuzzy light

A shadow appeared
Walking closer
It was Jen

“Have we done the survey yet? We need to start drilling, and we’ll have to start soon, otherwise we’ll never meet the quota in time.”

Too tired, maybe the coffee was too weak
Sleepy eyelids, with leaden weights hanging

Glancing down at the excavation below

Fiery red,
Vents of yellow-red Lava, bits of a Phoenix
Strewn everywhere

Miners, workers, builders
Hm. It looks like they completed surveying, I thought.
I forgot that survey equipment was broken.

“Cleared. Begin drilling.”

Thus done. Slipping off into sleep
Borne along ceaselessly by the magnetic current
Of fatigue
Carrying me to places
Where the grass is greener

BOOM

A big sound.
Out of nowhere,
It was a Titan of old
It was Atlas or Hercules
Shaking the very pillars of the world

A bright light
Blinding
Slapping the dark in the face
Kicking my eyes in the nuts

The walls shook and the roof shook
And everything shook
And the cabin
Suddenly flipped over

Knocked my head
Got up,
Blood dripping everywhere

Staggering to the entrance
Wounded, limping,
Somehow
Lady Luck
Saved me that day

Sometimes I wish I had stayed awake that night
Now all the sleep I get can’t bring those dead workers

Five Card Flickr

WritingPromptFiveFlickrToday’s writing prompt was five card flickr.

Google it.

The stones crunched beneath my feet, the ocean rushing up beside me. The odd shell dotted the brown assortment of stones, and the seagulls cawed loudly. I walk up through the brush back to the town, spiky bushes which somehow have more shells in them than the beach, but the spikes still stop me from reaching out and finding out what had truly happened there.

Now I am in the town. This is not my hometown, but it almost is- nearly two full decades of beachside holidays in this idyllic place. To my left is a box full of maps, for the growing tourist population. I smile to myself, and take one.

Hilarious. The map shows only a skelton of the streets, a tourist attraction.

Windfall Detainment Camp

Martin yawned as he stared out, over the sickening drop and the gentle, rocky slope that transitioned into a stony beach. He stared at the set of staircases that led down to the beach, and marvelled at the thorny plants that, unlike all other beach flora, flourished during the harsh winters that beset Stornoway and the Outer Hebrides.

Just thinking about the winter made him cold. He wished he could get out of the asylum and that his guard duty was over. Good thing the shift was only three months. Then he could return to Elise and the children, and the warm, hazy, content Somerset countryside where his home, heart and family belonged.

Unfortunately, he was stuck here, sleeping in a hammock that was barely big enough for him, eating food that honestly should have been fed to pigs, and guarding his fellow countrymen, at least, those who were brave enough to speak up against Philip Snowden and his Federationist cronies. He didn’t like the government either; a Syndicalist Trade Union Congress and its bullies had stormed into his village and rounded up about a quarter of the villagers, including his elderly mother, for apparently “counter-revolutionary” activities. Fortunately for him, since he already worked at the Windfall Detainment Camp, he was able to secure his mother’s safety.

Other villagers, however, were not so lucky.

He made sure his rifle was hoisted securely around his shoulder, tightened his trenchcoat and shrugged his shoulders to ward off the cold. He peered at the prisoners, who were doing their morning exercises. Other guards were walking around the perimeter, and he could see a young prisoner being berated by a guard for dropping some tools. As he watched, the guard smashed the butt of his rifle into the prisoner’s jaw, who collapsed to the ground.

As Martin passed by the main entrance, he collected the map that detailed the camp

Only three months, he thought.

*Based off of the Kaiserreich mod for Hearts of Iron IV

-I do not own Philip Snowden, the Federationists, or Trade Union Congresses. Martin is a product of my own work.

Jian

The Official blog for Melbourne High Writing Interest Group (WIG)

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