Saturday, April 30, 2011

Chapter Five

The White King Enters

Start Chapter 5
One long moment passed. Rebecca stared at Elizabeth, her mouth agape, her eyes boggling. The babysitter rested her thick hand on the smaller, older woman's shoulder. "You need to get some sleep yourself," Rebecca said, dark eyes lighting with concern, "Honey-- you look like death warmed up."

Elizabeth nodded in feeble agreement; she felt shaky and sick, and her brittle fingers felt like ice, her circulation failing in its duties. She felt tired and anemic, but she new at the pit of her stomach she would be too worried to sleep well. She voiced her concerns, "I'm not sure I'll be able to sleep; I mean, what am I supposed to do? How can I got to bed with all of this-" she gestured wildly at the world in general, "-sh*t hovering over me?"

Rebecca firmly pushed her employer towards the bedroom. "Let me deal with 'all of this sh*t' for a bit. I'm going to search your house to make sure there are no cameras or recording devices anywhere. Then I'm going to check on your neighbours-- I'm sure Dacre will tell me if he has seen anything suspicious." Dacre was Elizabeth's good friend, a failed musician who worked at one of the logging mills. He was an unkempt man, with a kindly face and sad eyes. Rebecca continued her spiel as Elizabeth's eyes began to flutter closed, "And I'm going to put a watch out for your ex-husband.."

"What makes you think he's involved?"

"I'm just making sure that every possibility is covered. If it's him, well, he deserves jail. H*ll, he deserves worse than jail."

Elizabeth nodded wearily in agreement, collapsing onto her bed as her knees finally gave out. But she couldn't sleep. She was too scared, almost to the point of sickness, of throwing up; her stomach was in knots, she felt weak, and her life was suddenly out of her control, out of her hands. Indeed, as Elizabeth listened to Rebecca clatter around the house, moving shelves, shifting cabinets, emptying cupboards and boarding up holes in the walls, she felt like even Rebecca was more in control than she. Elizabeth continued to listen as Rebecca made a call to the neighbourhood watch, describing Elizabeth's ex-husband as closely as she could. Elizabeth listened distantly, not wanting to think about his cold dead eyes again.

She finally slept, and dreamt of skin against skin and cold sheets, of romance without money, and of a creeping darkness; cold hands reaching out to breach the silence that had fallen. She was alone.

After a fairly typical night at work, Elizabeth felt weirdly energized. She needed to take control of something, and what else was there but her own flesh and blood? So on that nice, Saturday morning, she decided to take her son to the Redwood Park. They hopped onto the shuttle-bus that took residents to the smaller town, and hiked the half mile up the hill that led to the park. The playground was a big one, with slides, and stairs, and tubes, and climbing walls, and swings. They played there for an hour, before Elizabeth decided it was time to go explore the woods. As they walked, they managed to have a conversation for once. Elizabeth felt happy, being outside, wandering through the woods with her son, looking for faeries and forest folk. Michael was convinced that he had seen a dragon, though Elizabeth blamed that more on his love of dragons that had infused with his childhood. They skipped and played and pretended to be elves. Slowly as the day wore on, they lost energy. Michael squeezed his mother's hand, "A bunch of kids at school are going to church. Why don't we, mom?"

His mother felt vaguely guilty for a moment, "Mommy's very busy, you know..."

"They say it's really fun there, though."

"I guess it can be, but-" She couldn't say anything about it. She didn't know what to say about it. What did you say to an eleven year old who wanted to find religion?

"They even taught me one of the church songs, listen!" Michael exclaimed, taking a deep breath and singing in a playful way;

"You're a lost little lamb,
Come into the fold,
Come into the fold,
Come into the fold,
You're a lost black sheep,
Come into the fold;
The slaughter will keep you warm."

Elizabeth was suddenly so shrouded in concern-- about her life, about the song, about her son-- that she didn't notice the White King.

End of Chapter Five

The White King Exits. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

Chapter Four

The White King Enters

Start Chapter 4:
One, two, three chapters already? "What's wrong with you, you sick f*ck!? How the hell did you find all this sh*t out? How the f*ck do you know who I am? How do you know where I live? Leave me the f*ck alone, I'm calling the police!" she typed, dialing the final "1" with her other hand, trembling slightly. But even as she stormed out, describing to the police her situation, she realized how truly useless it would be. Even as she described what was happening to the cop on the other end of the line, she felt foolish, as her words didn't explain enough, and the situation seemed ridiculous. The policeman promised to keep an eye on the situation, but apologized, elaborating that there had been a series of arson attacks in the area and the investigations into that and a few child disappearances were taking up all the time the small police force had. Feeling defeated and terrified, and above all unsafe, Elizabeth walked home.

Elizabeth decided to walk to Michael's school instead of letting the bus pick him up; she felt restless and uneasy, and in any case she wished to speak to her son's teachers about the situation. She walked up to the elementary school and caught Michael on his way out of the classroom. "Hey, Mike, you go play on the playground whilst I talk to Mr. McKinley, okay?" She watched him run gleefully off, and then stepped into the classroom. It smelled like paint and paper, and refreshed her senses slightly. She smiled wanly at Mr. McKinley, who gave her a big, teacherly grin. He was cleaning paintbrushes, but turned off the sink and wiped his hands on a towel, turning to speak to her directly.

"Ms. McFee, it's so nice to see you!" He said, genuinely. "What can I do for you today?"

"I'm just wondering if anything odd is going on with Michael. I've got a couple of problems at home, and I'm hoping that nothing is happening to him at school as well..."

Mr. McKinley gave her a kind look over the top of his wire-rimmed glasses. "Problems?"

"I might have a... well, a stalker."

"I'm so sorry, Ms. McFee. You don't have to worry about Michael; he'll be just fine here. We've really bumped up the security since..." He trailed off slightly, but recovered, "Since the beginning of this week."

Later that evening, Michael and Elizabeth sat down to dinner together amongst the boxes that served as furniture. They were eating macaroni and cheese on plastic Disney plates; just right for the young boy, but Elizabeth felt foolish. Nevertheless, she was willing to go without her dignity if Michael would just eat his meals without a problem. Elizabeth tried to initiate conversation with her son, in an attempt to savior what little time they had together. "How was your day at school today?"


Elizabeth bit her lip, but persevered; "What did you do?"

He shrugged, "Stuff."

"What kind of stuff?"

"Math stuff."

Elizabeth sighed heavily, and concentrated on her pasta. She felt so distant from he son, but he was all she had left to care about in the world. And it was such an uncertain world as well. That blog, with the moments in her life laid out plainly for all to see... She shuddered. Elizabeth wanted to forget all about it. She put Michael to bed, telling him a few quick stories, and prepared for work. At least at work she would be distracted from thinking about the stalker-- the thing that had to be a stalker. She nodded to Rebecca as she walked out the door and began the hike to the "Greasy Fork".

On her arrival, she was once again greeted by smoke and beer, rank smells of the underclass. In the corner of the room a man sobbed into his beer as his friends obliviously and drunkenly sang the chorus of a vulgar song about sausages. One of the few women who frequented the pub spat into her husbands beer whilst he was distracted by Dana's breasts. A couple of men were telling rape jokes and raucously laughing as the got worse and worse. Some of the loggers sat to the side, sharing smokes and complaining about their boss. One spat tobacco onto the floor beneath Elizabeth's feet as she stumbled into the back room.

"What can I get for you, sir?" "Have a nice evening!" The words became like a mantra to her, as she threw herself into her work. "What can I get for you, sir?" "Have a nice evening!" She had to concentrate to ignore the curses and catcalls, forcing herself to stay calm as Dana felt another untoward advance make its way up her skirt. "What can I get for you, sir?" "Have a nice evening!"  She restrained herself from strangling the chef as he giggled his throaty, burbling laugh. "What can I get for you, sir?" "Have a nice evening!" She worked to stay as calm as possible, to ignore the horror of her work and the Lifetime movie her life had become. "What can I get for you, sir?" "Have a nice evening!" And as the night ended, and Elizabeth began to close up the bar, she noticed that Dana seemed to be close to tears.

"Hey, Dana, honey, what's wrong?"

Dana's bottom lip quivered and she began to sob, loudly, "I had sex for money and I feel terrible and filthy but I gotta pay for dad's surgery and I need to go to college but I feel so sick and I'm sorry to dump this on to you but you're the nearest thing I've got to a friend.."

Elizabeth stuttered, "Oh," and as the younger girl burst into tears they hugged. But Elizabeth couldn't help but notice the nasty voice at the back of her head. Why me, it said in her voice, my life is already crazy enough, and now I've got to deal with other people's problems? I'm not crying now. I didn't cry when my husband beat me, I didn't cry when he left, I didn't even tell anyone about any of it. I didn't cry when my sister was committed to that mental hospital, no, I didn't cry when our parents died. No, I buckled down and dealt with it, the evil, envious little voice said, as it glared at Dana from behind Elizabeth's eyes. Elizabeth swallowed those thoughts; they were sick little things indeed.

Dana cried, and Elizabeth finished closing up the shop. Feeling motherly, Elizabeth then walked Dana back to her home in the more inner city (though the area was far too rural to have a real "inner city"). The poor girl was still crying when they had finished the four block walk. She hiccuped, and turned to Elizabeth; "Thanks, E. I'll see you tonight." Elizabeth held onto her smile until Dana had disappeared from sight, and the yawned into a grimace. Sluggishly, she walked the six blocks back to her home. Rebecca stood up to greet her, "I can stay for the morning if you want-- Michael is already awake. He had nightmares."

"Oh I'm so sorry," Elizabeth yawned apologetically.

"Naw, it's not a problem. Just thought you ought to know." Rebecca frowned, "You look awful, is everything alright?"

"Help me get Mike off to school and I'll tell you."

Michael was off in his own room, pretending to be a Pokemon. "Oh no, humans have come to capture me for experiments! I don't wanna go to the training grounds!"

Elizabeth grinned- most kids had grown out of Pokemon, but her son stilled loved it, giving her an easy pass on certain aspects of parenting. She grabbed some of his clothes and shouted "Pokeball, go!"

Michael shook the shirt off his head, "I escaped! You'll gave to weaken me first!"

Elizabeth laughed, and launched an attack of tickles against her son, who giggled profusely, "Alright mom, I give!"

"Cone on mike, it's Friday! Get dressed, Rebecca has your cereal all ready for you."

Eventually Rebecca and Elizabeth got Michael packed off to school. Rebecca turned to Elizabeth. "What's this all about?"

Wordlessly, Elizabeth went to the kitchen where she retrieved the papers that she had found on the windowsill. She waited as Rebecca read through them. "I'm not sure I understand, E. Did you write this or..."

"I found it on my windowsill."


"There's more at that blog site as well! It's someone who knows all about me, everything I do, everything I feel. I don't feel safe, and I cant stop it from being shown to people! I don't know what to do!"

End of Chapter Four

The White King Exits.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chapter Three

The White King Enters

Start Chapter 3:
Once more, the day was ordinary. Elizabeth emerged from her uncomfortable bed at noon. The sun was shining brightly through the window, illuminating the bedroom's every crevice. She groaned, as a couple of cockroaches disappeared through a hole in the wall, after scuttling between the mounds of clothing, books, toys and dishes that made up the architecture of the bedroom floor. She slid slightly, revealing her stomach, which was covered in stretchmarks-- the only smooth area was around her belly button. Her hair was tangled, and her make up running, marking her face with dark blotches. Her eyebrows were fuzzy and scraggly as well, frowning as the sun fell onto her eyelids. She yawned, revealing her yellowed teeth, and the scar on her tongue where she used to have a piercing. Then, slowly, carefully, her every muscle aching, she moved out of the bed, her feet nudging piles of clothing out of the way as she staggered upright. Smacking her dry lips, her brain raced, as she tried to decide what the more important option was-- coffee, or a shower? In the end, cleanliness prevailed. She stepped into the rundown bathroom, eying the new spiderweb of cracks in the wall suspiciously, and undressed. The water was cold, as it always was, but she didn't want to risk talking to her landlord about it. She yawned again, and was rewarded with a mouth full of cold water.

She stepped out of the shower and, wrapping herself in a towel, made her way back to the mirror. Squeezing toothpaste onto a toothbrush and jamming it into her mouth, she glared at her reflection, which served to remind her only of her fading years. The wrinkles, the bags under her eyes, the hints of grey in her hair; all served to warn her that her life was slowly being left behind. She would never be able to be young again, never not be in a position of weakness and responsibility. She saw this in the mirror-- the years of work that her future held, the years of misery, of poverty, toil and then death. She could feel the opening gap in the future gaping, the abyss of time looking into her soul and telling her how worthless her life would be seen by the universe, the universe that cares not, the universe that knows not. She spat into the sink, and rinsed.

Towling herself off, she walked into the kitchen and popped on the kettle, pouring some instant coffee into a chipped mug. Elizabeth walked over to the front door, which had been jammed with leaflets from some church, "The Church of the Last." She snorted at the obviously fake joy of the too clean people on the pamphlet and tossed it into the trash. She went back into the bedroom, and picked some clothes up off the floor. She sniffed them, and satisfied that they were at least clean-ish, she pulled them over her head. Dressed in a rumpled t-shirt and jeans, she moved back into the kitchen. Soon, cheap instant coffee was bountiful. Elizabeth sat at the box that served as a coffee-table and sipped at her breakfast, her eyes staring into the distance as she made plans for her day. She yawned again, and finished off her drink, stepping back into the kitchen to place it in the ever growing pile of washing up. She sighed heavily, and went about cleaning up the house. 

She put clothes into the a bag for laundry, and scrubbed the kitchen. She placed Michael's toys back in his toybox, and piled the books as neatly as possible. She went to the window to let some air in. She leaned out, enjoying the fresh California spring breeze, staring out at the bay beyond the buildings, when she noticed something on the ledge of the window. Intrigued, she leaned out the window slightly further. She grabbed the object-- it turned out to be a sheaf of papers-- and pulled it back inside. She glanced over the title page, "Once" by The Author, and, confused, began to read. She was pulled in quickly, for it was her own life, chapters one and two. Elizabeth felt like the bottom had fallen out of her world, felt sick to her stomach, felt shocked and appalled and violated. Someone knew who she was, and where she lived, and what she did every day. What she looked like. Someone knew every intimate thought and fantasy she had. The final page had the url . 

In a fit of rising panic and bad-decision making, she sped from her apartment, and ran the 11 blocks to the library. She clattered in through the front doors, earning herself dirty looks from the other patrons, but she didn't care. She sped to the computer lab, almost out of breath, where she sat at the computer, her fingers trembling as she typed the address. And yes, there it was, two pages-- no, three-- all about her, her life, her thoughts, her family, impeccably detailed. Enraged, sickened, and threatened, she scrolled to the bottom of the mysterious blog's new post and jabbed at the computer keys, typing quickly, as she called 911 on her phone.

End of Chapter Three

The White King Exits.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chapter Two

The White King Enters

Start Chapter 2:
One night at work was much like any other. Elizabeth spent most of her evenings amongst the more family-unfriendly patrons of the restaurant at which she waited. Walking in through the front, she greeted her friend Dana briefly as she arrived at the "Greasy Fork", a place that held delusions of being a family cafe during the day, but quickly slid into the Hyde of the night. Elizabeth quickly made her way to the back room to prepare for her shift, trying not to trip over the many holes in the flooring. She was wearing inch-high heels-- part of the uniform-- but found it difficult to balance when already woozy from the smoky air and her own hunger. She knew at that moment that it was going to be a long, difficult night. Elizabeth put her few possessions on her shelf, punched in onto the clock, and, smoothing back her hair one last time, she plunged into the drunken revelers. They were besieged that night, as they were every night, by unemployed loggers, alcoholics, potheads, druggies, and other dregs of society, each clamouring for a cheap meal, a cheap drink, a cheap grope of a waitress. It was really Dana who had to bear that affront; Elizabeth had no chest nor bottom, nor was she attractive outside of her hair. Once, a man had grabbed her and spent a good few minutes fondling and sniffing her hair, and her complaints to the Fork's owner had fallen on deaf ears. Dana had it worse, and Elizabeth knew it, but neither of them should have to go through that amount of humiliation.

Nevertheless, there was no way out for either of them. Elizabeth didn't have enough money to do anything outside of keeping her son happy and well, and Dana herself was supporting her senile old father. The women were trapped in an unfair, unjust situation of which there was no way out. Elizabeth grumbled to herself over the unfairness of it all, as she stumbled through the tables, carrying order after order, drink after drink. The chef, a middle aged man with a gut the size of a barrel, who chain smoked into the food, giggled, his belly wiggling like jelly, as Elizabeth's face turned from a perfect mask of a smile to a frown of hatred and discontent. She glared at him-- he had no family himself, and spent all his money on alcohol. She didn't know about his past, but judged him all she could. She hated him at that moment, as the ash from his cigarettes made its way into the food, and stained the stove-top he worked at. Dana stumbled into the kitchen, the skin at her collarbone bruised a little, a clear sign of calloused, filthy, grabbing fingers.

Dana and Elizabeth worked in the innards of the Fork's sweating hog of a body until four in the morning. They dashed from table to table, taking order after order, feeding the filthy maggots that sucked at the grease and pus that coated the insides of the restaurant. It was a villainous thing, a monstrous thing, but it was the only work the poor logging town could afford the two women. They worked until morning, for the patrons refused to go home even after the drinks stopped flowing, and sweat ran down their faces and mussed their hair. Finally, at four in the morning, the last of the dregs slipped out of the cafe, and Dana and Elizabeth could work on cleaning up. Elizabeth mopped the floor; though she was the older worker, Dana had diagnosed back problems that severely limited her ability to mop. Instead, Dana wiped the tables down, and stacked chairs. It took three hours of work to clean the bar ready for the morning. They finished the night by carefully registering half the tips they had earned, and pocketing the rest. It was unlawful, but they didn't have enough to pay the taxes they owed, not if they wanted to eat. Then, nodding to each other, they left the restaurant just as the morning crew arrived, ready to take on the rush of truckers coming in for a cup of coffee. 

Elizabeth staggered home, her heels in her hand, utterly exhausted. She didn't have a car, nor were there buses or cabs in the town. Instead she walked the six blocks, blinking the dark spots out of her eyes. She saw a strange figure out of the corner of her eye, but dismissed it as a figment of her imagination. She climbed the three sets of stairs to her apartment, and wobbled into the bedroom to wake up Michael for his day of school. Rebecca awoke from the couch, and quickly excused herself, after Elizabeth pressed the babysitter's pay into her hand. Elizabeth made Michael a quick breakfast-- Lucky Charms cereal, she knew it was bad for him, but they couldn't afford much better, and it was easier than arguing for a healthier option-- got him dressed, and rushed him out to the school bus. She watched drowsily as he clambered on, and the bus pulled away. Then she climbed back up the stairs to her apartment, and collapsed onto her bed, dead to the world.

End of Chapter Two.

The White King Exits.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chapter One

The White King Enters

Start Chapter 1:
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Elizabeth Katherine McFee. Elizabeth was a woman in her thirties, with red, curly hair with a hint of bronze that spun around in tight ringlets. She had tired grey-blue eyes, framed by early worry lines that laced across her face like frost. She was thin lipped and snub nosed, with a long face that gave her an undeserved air of haughtiness. Her figure was average in size, but her fingers were too long, like writhing spiders, and her stature leaning forward, uncertain, unbalanced. She lived in a very small apartment with her son, Michael. Michael was much the same in figure as his mother—skinny and awkward, looking to be at the edge of flight. He was, at 12 years and 2 months, an odd, antisocial child, reminding all who saw him of a chicken. His neck was too long, his head balanced on top like a coconut at a coconut shy, his legs being far too skinny, with knobbly knees sticking out like a sore thumb, and his arms flailed and wobbled like gelatin from beneath his counterfeit Ninja Turtles t-shirt. His hair was not so outstanding as his mother’s was—a dull, sandy brown, which reminded Elizabeth of the boy’s father. The child’s face was puckered, and freckled; and despite his bright brown eyes, he was far more interested in the exploits of Optimus Prime than in any academic calling.

The mother and son lived together in the apartment, Elizabeth wasting away her life and talents at a thankless waitressing job that barely floated them at the poverty line. The apartment was a small, dank, one bedroom affair, on the edge of being utterly empty but for Michael’s toys. Scarce pictures scattered the walls—Michael playing with other children at his daycare, at his school, Michael playing with his mother at the Redwood Park, perhaps one or two pictures of Elizabeth and a similar looking woman of perhaps a few years older. Plastered around the photographs were Michael’s early pictures, at first stick figure drawings of his family and imaginary friends, then later still-young images of cars and robots; young boy exploits into artistry.

Elizabeth sat at the camp bed her son kept and began to read him a story; poems about crooked men filled the air, and Michael found himself floating to a different world—a world of dreams and faerie tales, and soon he was asleep. Elizabeth kept reading quite a while after, knowing it silly to still be so entranced about children’s stories, but knowing that nobody would know about her secret evening’s entertainment. She finished the story, and stroked her son’s hair for a moment, keeping comfort in his safety. Then she stood, turned out the light, and greeted the babysitter, Rebecca. Elizabeth pulled on her uniform, relaying the same tired routine of instructions to Rebecca, who knew each word by heart. She knew to keep the thermostat down, to not use the cooker, to read Michael poems should he awaken, and that she could help herself to anything in the fridge. Satisfied at last, Elizabeth hurried towards the door, tying her hair into a tight bun, and disappeared into the night.

End of Chapter One

The White King exits.