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Voices by Bob Whitely

Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2014 5:15 pm
by Bob Whitely
Hi gang,

Here's a sneek peek of my story, Voices, for Arcane Synthesis. It hasn't gone through final editing yet, but I wanted to reward those of you who use the Insiders with something that outsiders aren't getting yet. Goes without saying that it's for your eyes only at this point. Not even the Backers who are not Insiders are seeing this yet. Enjoy!



Peeking out from under the covers, Anton watches for shadows moving across the glowing strip of light below his bedroom door. The shouting intensified. Cupping his ears with tiny hands and pinching his eyes closed, he tried to visualize snugglebunnies playing in a field, their over-sized paws and ears flopping as they hopped about.

Whenever he was scared or frustrated, his therapist encouraged him to visualize those pink, big-nosed, bright-eyed fur balls. Anton had tried to explain about the voices and how they made it almost impossible to focus on such things, but wondered if she really understood what was going on. Even so, he tried to think about Snugs, his favorite snugglebunny ever.

Of course they weren't really bunnies at all. "They're better than bunnies!" he remembered telling his mother when they were out shopping a couple weeks before Christmas the previous year.

It was the night before she met Ford at a Christmas party and the first time she'd left Anton with a sitter. More sitters followed, but he was pleased at least, that Christmas came with a soft, cuddly snugglebunny and a picture book about far away Toonaria, where all the gubbies lived.

Anton tried to visualize one of the stories from the book.

"Toonaria is a happy place of never-ending adventure; a realm filled with magic and all your friends!"

He loved to sit on his mother's lap and listen to her read; it was her voice that calmed him, even more so than the stories themselves.

Ever since Ford moved in, his mother seemed too busy to talk of snugglebunnies, chocolate rivers and candy cane rafts. With Ford, came shouting, tears and pain. Anton tried to block out the voices by reciting the names of each member of the beloved Gubby Gang and recall their greatest adventure: Down the White Chocolate Rapids.

The voices blended together with others into an overwhelming cacophony: Neighbors watching the big game, the little Maltipoo across the street yipping endlessly in the window, the young couple in the passing hover car arguing over which restaurant to eat at, three brothers debating the merits of a computer game, a baby crying...

"One day, I'll make you go away!" Anton said in a small voice, hating the man who had moved in and ruined everything. He stopped and listened carefully, hoping desperately Ford would stomp out of the house and never return. But he knew better. Ford always came back, and always got mad.

Something fragile shattered in the living room. His mother screamed. Something heavy fell over that jingled. The Christmas tree? There was shouting. Someone was running. The bathroom door slammed shut. Moments later, someone –– Ford, was pounding on the door right beside his own; he could see Ford's heavy shadow blotting out most of the light. His presence was suffocating.

Anton couldn't see anything, but knew his mother had gone and locked herself in the bathroom again.

"Pleasepleaseplease don't hit her again," Anton whispered, not daring to draw attention to himself. He feared for his mother's safety, but all he could do was weep. Tears had always come easily for him, but he tried not to cry around Ford. That only made him madder.

Ford had broken the bathroom door twice before: Anton recalled once when he woke up in the middle of the night and needed to pee. He didn't dare risk wetting his bed, but the bathroom door had been off for nearly a week, the remains propped up against the wall in the hall. As quietly as he could, Anton sneaked into the bathroom, but Ford had come home right after, saw the light on, walked up and stood in the doorway watching. Anton struggled to relax enough to go.

After, when Anton, scared and rushing off to his room to hide, forgot to wash his hands, Ford had thrown a fit. Anton's bottom was sore for three days after, which was about how long it took Ford to get around to replacing the door.

Slipping out from under the covers, Anton scooted underneath the bed frame as he sometimes did when he was scared, and laid tummy down, on the cold, dusty tile, waiting and hoping the shadow would go away. He imagined the doorknob turning, but thankfully it didn't.

Between sobs, his breathing heavy, his little body trembling, Anton started thinking bad thoughts about Ford: Being stomped on by a minotaur, tripping over meebles and falling off a cliff without the pillowy billow bushes down below to soften his landing like they had for Snugs, when the snugglebunny ran faster than his mind could think and found himself beyond the safety of the cliff's edge.

Mother told me to hide or pretend to be sleeping whenever Ford gets like this, he reminded himself, staring at the shadow, anger welling up within him worse than ever before.

"Stop it!" he heard himself say, and started to panic. But Ford couldn't hear him over his own shouting.

Anton's snugglebunny had rolled off the bed when he crawled out and lay on the floor by the dresser. He watched in horror as it began convulsing, its pink, wavy fur suddenly standing on end like a scared porcupine, then like a marionnette the doll ascended into the air, along with a handful of marbles, and more than a dozen plastic, colonial marines he'd forgotten to put away.

"Stop it!" Anton shouted, this time too angry to care whether Ford heard or not. The pounding on the bathroom door stopped and the house grew coffin quiet. Anton's breathing filled his ears and pushed the dust bunnies around him out toward the bed's edge. He crawled out from under the foot of the bed and was trembling as though Ford were shaking him, like he'd done that one time when he couldn't stop crying. Anton was unaware that he too was floating inches above the tile floor.

The door swung open, flooding the bedroom with light, Ford's massive shadow looming like a Toonarian minotaur above him. "Shut up, Anton, or I swear I'll ––"

"Leave my mother alone you... ugly old minotaur!" Anton shouted, trying to think of the worst thing he could possibly imagine, knowing Ford would hurt him regardless.

Faceless in the dark, Ford started undoing his belt.

"You're a freak, Anton. You know that, right? Flush, you think I'm afraid of you? Do you?" Ford was breathing heavy, pumping alcohol-laced stench into the room. "Lori? I'm gonna teach this little freak of yours some manners, you hear that?"

Anton remained still, refusing to give Ford the pleasure of seeing him squirm.
Ford's belt, at first invisible under the swath of belly and shadow, appeared out of nowhere, slapping the peeling paint on the wall and leaving a mark as the minotaur gave it a final, prophetic yank, freeing it from its loops.

Everything not tied down in the room rose to join the rest, as if invisible Dobbers, pranksters of Toonaria, were playing their little game. Ford glanced about with wild, angry eyes. "What are you doing in here, you mangy Freak?"

"I hate you so much!" Anton screamed, not moving an inch from the foot of the bed, though pressed up against it, fists tightly balled; his Little Gubby shirt wet with tears and covered with dust bunnies. With chest out and eyes welded shut, he stood his ground and waited for the pain to come. His head was on fire and time slowed; he couldn't breath, couldn't think.

The shouting intensified, but he was a million miles away and couldn't sort out what was being said. There were muffled sounds... of a door opening, and of a struggle. A strong, icy breeze blew over him, like someone had let the window open and all the world's air was rushing in. The room grew freezer-cold. Though his eyes were still shut, Anton's eyelids were bright and he could tell the room was full of light as bright as the sun. When he opened them again, everything was gone.

Re: Voices by Bob Whitely

Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2014 3:21 pm
by Flowswithdrek
Nice, Bob. Its got me hooked already, can't wait for the next instalment!

Re: Voices by Bob Whitely

Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2014 3:58 pm
by Bob Whitely
Thanks, Allen. That's encouraging! I am about 25% through another major draft of the story, but I thought I'd share the intro. Voices is part 1 of a 3 part storyline that follows the life of Anton, a powerful psi augment. He has a pretty hard life. Voices will explore his very early years.

Re: Voices by Bob Whitely

Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 12:39 am
by Bob Whitely
Voices is in the Editing Phase - it has been for awhile now - forgot to mention that. I've done a gazillion edits on it and will run it through the ringer at least once more before I hand it over to Joan for another big edit.

I had to set it aside awhile back to do a pile of editing, but I'm hoping to get back to it in the next couple weeks or so - whenever my plate gets empty (or at least less full).