(June 18th, 2003, 10:31 pm)
Husk, taxadermy, boll weevil.
(June 19th, 2003, 1:40 pm)
Jack watched the small beetle crawl along with dismay. It looked such an innocuous creature, but he knew from prior experience the damage they could cause.
He picked the grey-shelled insect up between finger and thumb, and watched it's curiously spiked legs carry on moving back and forth. Jack wondered absently if the boll weevil even realised it was no longer on the ground.
Shrugging, he crushed it, and resumed his diligent search for anymore of the pests, wishing once again he had any pesticide left.
"Hey, Bob," he shouted to his brother, "when did Rogers at the store say that next load of gunk was in?"
"Two to three weeks he reckoned," came the reply, "You finding more of 'em too then?"
"Yup. Little buggers."
Jack absently cleared his forehead of sweat with the back of his hand. There has to be a better way of making a living than this, he thought. Breaking my back in the middle of summer hunting bugs in a field - that was what technology was for, to save all this stupid manual labour.
Suddenly, he heard of yell of pain from the direction he guessed his brother to be.
"What the hell? Ouch, ya little...get off me!"
"Stepped in another ant's nest Bob?"
"Nah, it was a damn weevil. Guess he mistook me for a plant or something."
"You were standing still too long again, see," Jack laughed, "Keep telling you to keep moving."
"Very funny. Ow! There goes another one. Huh? No. That's impossible..."
Jack grinned. "Guess you taste good, huh?"
Bob screamed, and Jack's smile vanished. In the twenty-seven years Jack had known his brother, he'd never known him scream or cry. Even as a child, Bob would endure injuries stolidly. Something was seriously wrong to get that sort of response.
Jack waded through the tangled stems of cotton in the general direction of his brother. It could only be a guess, as he could no longer see Bob anywhere. After a few panicked seconds, however, Jack spotted movement off to his left, and half-ran, half-hopped amongst the plants.
His legs stopped short when he found his brother, nearly causing him to fall as his momentum carried him forward. As soon as he regained his balance, he doubled over to vomit. His brain was numb, but his body was still reacting to what it saw.
Bob's bones were still vaguely keeping his skin in place, but even so it was clear that he was empty, sucked dry. Only a husk remained, an empty bag wrapped in cotton clothes.
The shock kept the signals from Jack's nerves out for a few seconds longer, but eventually the pain was too great. He looked down in horror at the writhing mass of brown, grey and black chitin that now covered most of his lower body. Suddenly his legs collapsed underneath him, and as he fell into the swarm, he opened his mouth to scream.
The sound never made it out. Hordes of shiny bodies, sun glinting off their hardened backs, flooded into his mouth and nose. There was time for one last moment of indescribable pain, and then nothing.
A lone figure in black appeared on the edge of the field, and walked slowly to where the two bodies lay drying in the afternoon sun. The weevils quickly covered him also, yet curiously, none attacked. Smiling, the man looked from the bodies to the field of cotton plants, and the soft white balls of seed upon each.
"Fetch the stuffing."
(June 19th, 2003, 1:41 pm)
I know I only kind of imply the second word, but hopefully that counts...it wouldn't have anywhere near the dramatic effect if I had to explicitly state what happens...
(June 19th, 2003, 3:33 pm)
Wow.. That actually gave me a chill, I could envisage the whole scene played out as if I were there myself.
You definately have a nack for those horror stories, Cruise, and I couldn't find anything to pick on either. ;-)
(June 19th, 2003, 11:27 pm)
Have I ever mentioned how much I love short stories? I love short stories. This is a fine example of why. As Cruise demonstrated, you can incorporate everything that a good book has to offer, plus you leave enough room for people to make up parts of the story in their head. Like why does the man have boll weevils that eat peoples insides only, just so he can stuff them and do something with them with is also up to the imagination. They don't take too much time out of a busy day, but the rewards delivered to ones ability to be creative are tremendous. Anyway, I really liked it. It seemed maybe a little choppy near the end, like you were really excited to get to typing the ending and sort of hurried to it. Or maybe I am just seeing that because I do it all the time. Anyway, you could use Taxadermy in the title, and then you wouldn't have to worry about the implication. But it counts enough as is for me, the purpose was inspiration, not another law book to stick to. Gawd I hate laws.
(June 20th, 2003, 1:05 pm)
I've always preferred short stories too. Compare say, the short story version of Arthur C. Clarke's Nightfall with the novel, and it is so much better...the novel just drags it out over a longer period of time :P
Short, punchy, clever sci-fi stories have always been my favourite, and probably will remain so (even though I am getting quite fond of sprawling fantasy epics :P).
I wouldn't be surprised if the trail end of the story starts sounding a little rushed...I do tend to get bored with the build-up and just get to the cool ending...oh well. Glad y'all liked it anyway :D
"Pearls" and "Worm God" in my oeuvre were both written in pretty much this way, though without any words for guidance...just sheer stream of conciousness "whatever the hell came into my head". It is very fun, and actually I feel excellent practice.
(June 20th, 2003, 2:11 pm)
I'm afraid there is one small spelling error... taxadermy is spelled taxidermy, with an i. Anyway, great story.
(June 20th, 2003, 2:15 pm)
And you could make a great horror movie with this story if it was extended a bit ;)
(June 20th, 2003, 5:20 pm)
Well, the great thing about turning a short story into a film is there is plenty of room for the director to have a creative touch on it while still staying true to the story.
(June 20th, 2003, 8:41 pm)
I never said it was Cruise that had to extend it ;P
(June 20th, 2003, 8:43 pm)
tastely stuff :)
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