Rules Are Made To Be…

“Aw, come on, Peyton.” His blue eyes begged for forgiveness. “You know my sister adores you. Honestly, she didn’t think you’d come. You know how you are.”

How I am? Her first instinct was to be angry. She huffed and folded her arms across her chest, turning slightly away from him. The longer she thought about his words, the more she realized he was right. It made no sense to be angry. Cam was right. Had she been invited to his sister’s party, she would have declined. Not because she wasn’t curious about the goings on at a real un-chaperoned party, but because she was one of those people who always followed the rules.

Peyton had a cousin who believed rules were merely guidelines. He never followed them and it showed in his parents’ tired faces and disappointed eyes. It never seemed to bother her cousin, but it killed Peyton to think her parents could ever look at her that way. She made a promise to herself she would never be on the receiving end of those disparaging looks. She wanted to be the one her father looked at with pride, and so far, she’d done pretty well.

Her parents weren’t difficult to please. Good grades, being home a couple of minutes before curfew, bringing dates home to meet the folks, and making it a point to never lie. It was easier than most would think, and even though there were those who looked at her like she was a goody-goody, she was pretty much given free rein to do as she pleased. Luckily, her interests didn’t wane far from coffee and the occasional rated R movie while snuggling with Cam in the well lit living room.

Problem was, she was tired of playing perfect. Teenagers across the world were known to make mistakes, why should she be all that different? If she went for a little while and came home before midnight, it couldn’t even be considered breaking a rule, anyway… more of a slight bend, really. Her parents would be out of town that weekend anyway so it wasn’t like she’d have to lie to their faces, which was something she couldn’t have done to save her life. Peyton took a deep breath and looked at Cam. “What if I want to go?”

Cam pursed his lips and lifted an eyebrow. “Your parents are going out of town this weekend and this party won’t be chaperoned. Not to mention there’s gonna be alcohol, and God knows what else. Let’s do something else. Something less likely to make your parents hate me,” he chuckled. “You’re… you, and that isn’t a bad thing. I love you the way you are, stickler for rules and everything.”

Peyton grunted, feeling guilty for even entertaining the thoughts inside her head.  “Maybe I’m tired of being the good kid. Maybe for once I’d like to know what it feels like to doing something… a little less than good. I won’t drink, I won’t smoke, and I’ll leave early too, but I really want to go.”

“Will you kiss me goodnight?”

Peyton grinned. “I may even kiss you good morning.”

Cam smirked as his eyes lit up. He draped an arm over her shoulder and walked her home.

She told her parents she would be out with a few friends, and of course, they had no issue with it because they trusted her. She promised to be in no later than 11:00, and they handed her $40.00 for food and “stuff” to last her the weekend. “Don’t forget to lock-up,” her dad said as he kissed her forehead and closed the door behind him. She grinned. She was all set to bend some rules.

When Cam picked her up the next evening, she felt pretty good. She had her cell phone, she had cash, she had her keys… but she couldn’t get over the thought that she was forgetting something. Something important. She double checked her purse, but nothing was jumping out at her. She shrugged the feeling off, determined to have a great night.

The party wasn’t as great as she hoped it would be. Every “A-lister” from school was there, but by 10:30, half of them were draped over each other, passed out and drooling on the couch. The other half were being loud and obnoxious discussing “how awesome beers are, dude”.

She was beginning to regret the addition of rebellion to her lifestyle. Cam had been right. This wasn’t her. She tugged on his sleeve and whispered in his ear that she was ready to go home. He smiled knowingly, and nodded.

The drive home was uncomfortable. Even though it was a lesson learned, she’d already bent more rules than she wanted explain to her parents. She also really wanted Cam to come inside. She wasn’t sure what to do and decided to allow him to make that move. He parked in the driveway and got out. A good sign that he was at least coming in for a bit. She smiled at him. “I’m not staying,” he said, grinning. “Breaking one rule is enough for tonight. I thought maybe we could watch a movie since it’s still early.”

“On the couch?”

“With the lights on,” he laughed.

Gotta love a guy who plays by the rules. She hopped out of the car, excited to have the best, most understanding boyfriend a girl could ask for. She ran inside her house, leaving the door open for him to follow. “I’m home!” she called out. There were two reasons for this. One, being it was habit. Second, she wanted to make sure her parents hadn’t come home early. Even if she had no plans to break or bend any more rules, she didn’t want to take the chance that her parents would catch her bringing Cam inside so late. The uneasy feeling from earlier that night returned. Something wasn’t right, she could feel it in the pit of her stomach.

She and Cam sat snuggled underneath a quilt listening to Jaime Kennedy explain how to survive a horror movie. She giggled. She loved Scream because of the rules. Rules were important, even in a gore-fest. She sank deeper into Cam’s arms. A shadow passed behind the television and her heart skipped a beat. She sat up, muting the television, trying to convince herself the shadow was just her mind freaking her out. She and Cam looked at each other when the stairs creaked, and then she realized the reason behind the sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. Something she should have remembered, even if her father hadn’t reminded her before he left. Rule number one when you leave the house.

Don’t forget to lock the door.


Black coffee

She tucked a stray strand of inky black hair behind her ear as she stared out the café window into the snow drifts. The flakes fell silently like a blanket being laid over a sleeping infant. Taking a deep breath, she took a sip of the bitter brew she held; the hazelnut flavoring tickling her nose. Her hands shook slightly as she glanced to see blood caking under her fingernails. Putting the cup down, she picked up a nearby napkin to try and clean them. She kicked the body lying at her feet. He should’ve known she preferred black coffee.

Road Trip

My take on a classic story. Hope you enjoy. 🙂

Jack sighed. This trip was not turning out as great as his best friend promised. They were halfway to their destination, and completely lost. Rain pounded the windshield, his lights were dirty and his wipers were crap. They should have stopped at AutoZone before driving their cars across the country in a last ditch effort to have some fun before college classes began.

“Does that hoopty go any faster than 25 miles an hour, Jackson?” Hal’s voice came through the speakers of his car.

Jackson looked in his rearview mirror at Hal’s silver car and laughed. “Not when it’s raining cows outside.” Hooking up their cell phones to their car stereos, powered through the cigarette lighters was Hal’s idea. All of it had been, really. He’d routed their trip, making plans and hotel reservations across the country, allowing a whole week to get from California to Kentucky with a three day buffer in case of car trouble, or some other unforeseeable problem… like this freaking monsoon. It wasn’t trekking across Europe, but after seeing that horror movie about a youth hostel, he was actually okay with that.

The rain had already put them an hour and a half behind the day’s schedule, mostly due to the “should’ve done that” trip to AutoZone Jackson lamented not making. He and Hal decided that it might be best to keep the phones on until the storm blew over. Jackson suggested going ahead and stopping for the night, but Hal didn’t want to lose the deposit on the hotel room, so they kept on.

“Hey dude, what’s up the road there on the right?” Hal asked.

Jackson leaned closer to his windshield, slowing down just a bit, and squinting his eyes. “Is that a person?” Jackson wondered out loud. He felt bad for whoever deemed it necessary to walk around in this mess. He slowed down even more as he drove closer.

“What are you doing, man? You can’t stop to pick up a hitchhiker!”

“I’m just going to stop and see if they need some help.”

Jackson ignored Hal’s protests as he pulled up next to the mound of walking clothes and rolled down his passenger side window. “Hey, do you need a ride?” he called out. A wrinkled face appeared from underneath a cloak. The lady smiled at him and nodded. He pushed open the door to let her inside just as Hal pulled out from behind him and rushed down the road.

“Didn’t your folks tell you to assume all hitchhikers are serial killers?” Hal grunted.

The woman looked at the cell phone hanging from the visor. “Your friend seems upset,” she said as she fastened her seatbelt. Jackson laughed. “He’s always in a bit of a hurry. I’ve got time to get you where you need to go, though.””

“It isn’t far, and I can’t thank you enough,” she squeaked. “My husband needed his medicine, and my car broke down. I can’t pay you money, but I have tea ready. I’d be honored if you could join me… as payment for the ride.”

“Tea is a bad idea, Jackson,” Hal said. “You need to tell her to get out of the car and come on. We’re late.”

The lady snorted. “Tea is never a bad idea, child.” She turned towards Jackson. “Please say you’ll join me.”

Jackson offered a small smile to the lady and agreed. Hal gunned the gas and pulled around Jackson, who gave the woman an apologetic smile as Hal’s taillights disappeared into the darkening horizon. Hal didn’t even try to be polite after that. He spent the next five minutes complaining and ranting at Jackson over picking up the “old biddy”. Jackson could feel his cheeks warm with embarrassment and told Hal goodbye as he hung up the phone. He ignored Hal’s callback and listened as the woman named Pearl Mallory told him about how much Jackson reminded her of her husband, interspersed with directions on how to get to her home. Hal called a total of 23 times before Jackson finally pulled into Pearl’s driveway. He left the phone in the car as he helped her out and they walked up the steep stairs to her home.

Once inside, she led him to an old fashioned embroidered couch, and pointed at the tea set sitting on the squat, cherry wood table. “You just make yourself at home, son. Pour yourself a cup, I promise it’s exactly what you need.” She offered Jackson another toothy smile and disappeared into a hallway. Jackson looked around the dusty old room filled with pictures and memories of family and friends. He poured himself a glass of tea and sipped, relishing in the warmth of it as it slipped down his throat. He hadn’t realized how tired he was until then. The stress of driving in the rain and the embarrassment of how Hal treated to little old lady melted away as the tea began to settle him. He closed his eyes for only a moment and awoke with a start as the sun shone on his face.

He sat up looking around, confused. “Pearl?” He called out, but nobody answered. He yelled his appreciation, hoping Pearl heard him as he ran out the door. The sun was high in the sky and he knew Hal was going to be pissed. Pulling out of the driveway, he took one last look at the house. The night before, in the pouring rain, it seemed much more a safe-haven than the dilapidated shell it looked in daylight.

He dialed Hal’s phone, but Hal wasn’t answering. Jackson tried to make up for lost time by driving twenty miles over the speed limit. Just outside the tiny town, police cars blocked the road. He stopped his car, hoping one of the officers standing around would be able to give him an alternate route. An officer nodded at him, pointing at Jackson’s car. “You can’t go this way, son,” he said.

Jackson smiled at him. A tow truck struggled against the weight of a car on the slippery mud that used to be the road. “This is the way my GPS says I need to go. I got sidetracked helping someone get home last night or I would have made it before the road washed out, I guess. Is there another way around?” he asked.

“You’ll have to drive out and get on the main highway to bypass. It’s about an hour out of the way, but it’ll get you where you need to go.”

Jackson nodded and started to turn around to head back to his car, when the tow truck finally succeeded in pulling the mud encrusted car onto what was left of the road. Jackson’s heart skipped a beat, recognizing the car as Hal’s. He started running towards the car, but the officer grabbed his arm. “No, you don’t understand. That car belongs to my friend!” He struggled against the officer, but wasn’t able to get out from his grasp. “I stopped to pick up an old lady and get her home and out of the rain. My friend…he was going ahead to the hotel! That’s his car!”

“Pearl?” The police officer questioned. Jackson kept fighting to get to Hal’s car, but the officer got in his face and shook him. “Your friend is in the hospital. He’s banged up pretty bad, but he’ll live. Now I need to know – the lady you picked up – did she give you her name? Was it Pearl Mallory?”

Jackson nodded, slapping tears from his face. How was he supposed to call Hal’s mother and explain that not only was her kid in a wreck, but that he’d abandoned him to give a stranger a ride?

The policeman nodded. “Pearl’s husband died out here about twelve years ago when the road washed out. Pearl begged him not to go. She hated the rainy season. Believed it wasn’t safe. Now every time it rains, we get a report of somebody picking her up and taking her home. She always pays them with a cup of Earl Grey tea.”

“So?” Jackson asked, not understand what any of this had to do with Hal or his car.

The policeman smiled and patted Jackson on his back. ‘Pearl Mallory died ten years ago.”

Term Paper Blues

It was a dark and stormy night…

No, that sounds terrible. I think I’ve read it before somewhere.

Night – stormy and dark you are.

Dammit, that’s just the Yoda version.

How do I start this story? I have the words in my head but they won’t come out onto the paper. Writers have to do this better than me. I bet they just open up their brains and it just plops out with ease. Otherwise, how does Stephen King sneeze out a book a day? It’s insanity… or magic…

I’ve been having problems with this story for quite some time. The paper is due on Monday, and I just can’t seem to get it started. No matter how hard I try, the words stick on the first sentence. I’ve tried plotting, not plotting, writing randomness, asking for help, word prompts, everything. I’m just not smart enough I guess.

I think I’ve found the answer though. Yesterday, I went to a metaphysical shop downtown and picked up this super cool box. It’s shiny steel with opal colored buttons all over it. It’s super light for what it’s made out of, which was really interesting. I was told it was full of ideas, and that’s why it was so light. I guess ideas don’t weigh much. The chick at the store promised me it would work. I tried to pry it apart with a fork, but it wouldn’t open. The sides look like puzzle pieces, so it has to come open somehow.

Look, I’m holding it right now and my thumbs are on two buttons. Maybe if I just think of what I want to write it will work. Hey, this just might work.

The winds howled and the rain pelted the tin roof. Tree branches swayed in an angry dance, threatening to crush anyone who crossed their path. The distant city lights glowed orange behind the clouds, casting an ethereal light upon the wet streets. It was time.

Oh, now that was pretty awesome, right? Now I’m getting somewhere.

Wonder what would happen if I pressed this button…

Seems like there’s a light inside. I pressed another button, and the light got brighter but nothing happened. I don’t feel anything different either. I guess that one piece was a fluke. I’ll just pitch it on the bed and leave it alone. Maybe I can find the receipt and return it. I’d rather have the new Lady Gaga CD instead. Screw schoolwork.

This doesn’t seem to be helping my writing at all though. Piece of crap. I bet that chick just wanted it out of her store or got some serious commission off it. I haven’t had any more thoughts.

Now the stupid thing is hissing. Hmm…

A tall, lanky man stumbled out of the bar clinching something in his hand. He held it close while being whipped about by the winds. The rain hit his face and he pulled his fedora down over his eyes so he could see where he walked. A gust blew him into the brick wall, and he stood there, waiting for this moment to pass. Pulling his trench coat closer around him, he huddled against the wall, clutching the object in his hand as if it were his lifeline.

Holy crap! That didn’t suck! Okay, okay. I’ll give the box another chance.

Maybe if I pick it up it will stop hissing. That’s pretty annoying.

Hey, here’s another switch on the bottom I didn’t see at first. I wonder what would happen if I flicked it.

Some kind of red ooze is coming out of the bottom. Gross. This thing must be broken. Now I really have to find the receipt. This seriously looks like blood. What the hell is going on? It won’t stop spewing this stuff all over me, all over the bedspread. My mom will kill me when I send my laundry home. And it’s starting to hurt my hand. I just can’t let it go. Wait, my arm’s turning black! Oh no! What is this?

There’s a frickin’ squid tentacle coming out of this thing! I’m going crazy! This can’t be for real. I take it back. I don’t want to cheat. I don’t want to use these gross ideas. I don’t care how cool they sound on paper… if I could just breathe… if… if…

The lanky man upturned his face toward the raging sky. He held his hands outstretched toward the falling rain, the object clenched in his right fist.

A steel box, with opal buttons reflecting in the flashes of lightning.

“My time has come,” he said, laughing. “I shall live again.”

A gargantuan tentacle reached down from the sky and lifted the man from the streets, and without fear, he was carried away out of the rain to a small dorm room on the other side of town.