Monday, February 22, 2010

magpie tales: initiation

schrik...a match flares brilliantly in the thick ink of a recessed door off the alley way, settling into a warm glow exposing only a jagged mouth and chin.

what are you looking for?

he waits for specific words that will let him know i am here for a reason. my lips spill them before they leave my addled mind and he allows me to pass, his cold grey eyes following me each step of the way. his lips purse, blowing out the flame with the howl of a great wind.

course hands grab me, forcing a hood over my head, binding my wrists. voices whisper from all directions. a firm grip pinches my upper arm, pulling me through a river of twisting passages, up and down stairs, prolonged stops where they leave me, only to find me again, moving. my head swims, breath hot, pushed back in my face by the clothe.

kneel.

concrete chews my knees, my eyes pinch tight, blinking, slowly becoming accustomed to the light, hood rustling off my face. the only thing visible is a worn brown skull, surrounded by crimson candles on gold pedestal holders. voices boom from the shadows, as i stare into the empty sockets, a litany of responsibility and secrecy.

stand.

working myself upright with arms bound takes effort. achieving the task, a hand snakes out of the shadows, pushing me backwards, others lower me into a plywood box. darkness envelopes, a lid is placed and hammers begin to pound, sealing my fate.

fingers become my eyes, feeling the cramped space for what they can see; nothing. the coffin rises from the ground, swaying with movement as muffled voices begin my eulogy. ropes hum against the wood and i feel myself lowered to a jarring clomp on the ground. earthen smells seep in through the cracks, heavy thumps of what i can only assume is dirt rattles against the lid.

silence.
silence.
i don't know if i can bear this.
silence.
noise.

nails scream, the lid pulls free and they bid me rise.

you are one of us now.

i see their faces, now in the light, smiling. i smile to keep from crying, my heart skipping with excitement and relief. it will be two years before i realise some matches can't be blown out so easy, once lit. eventually the secrets begin to burn the tips of your fingers, and they won't let you drop it.

they may even be reading this now.

This was written for the picture prompt at Magpie Tales.

101 comments:

secret agent woman said...

There is no group I would ever want to belong to badly enough to submit myself to an initiation.

Poetikat said...

Now that's some rite of passage! You gripped me from the start and didn't let go. Whew!

Kat

Mighty M said...

Phew, I am breathing again. Great story!

otin said...

Wow, you could have thrown a little fiction in there and ended up with a hell of a horror scene!

Ms Hen said...

Brian's I've been admiring your story and writing style. It was a pleasure reading about YOU on Gillian's Blog.

It was great hearing you are a therapist for children that might be removed from their homes. Great you are doing service such as that in your working life..

Thanks for bringing such wonderful stories.. and that most are Facts Based... beautiful.

MY blog is just rambling...lol.. I'm blogging because I was told many times in Al-Anon to keep a Journal. It makes me do better writing it out to the UNIVERSE.. in a mesh-mashed way..

And you have always been kind in your comment...

willow said...

Oh, gosh, that was scary. My heart was beating faster the more I read!

"...concrete chews my knees"? Love it. LOVE it!

5thsister said...

Wow! I should write about a similar tale that happened to me in Jr. High that was NOT part of a hazing ritual but of a neighbor girl and her friends being cruel.

Bernie said...

I don't think I would join this group but then I was always a girly girl........:-) Hugs

Catalyst said...

Whoooff! I nearly stopped breathing myself. Spellbinding!

Brian Miller said...

it was years ago...and i escaped...i think. smiles. we were all young and dumb once, right?

been reading some old stephen king short stories...think they are wearing off on me...

William Manson © 2010 said...

EXCELLENT Brian I turned the tv off and just read this, much better, great post, have a good day, its almost bed time here, tarra.

Alan Burnett said...

The Magpie Tales format could have been invented with you in mind ... As someone once said - "nobody does it better"

Maggie said...

Captures you right from the beginning! Very creepy Brian.

JeffScape said...

You know, you really need to just hunker down and start doing long-form.

Susan said...

Normally a story like this would make my heart race. However, my heart has beat so hard today that I don't think it has it left to race. That was a great story. I promise to read it again tomorrow when my head is clear. Thank you for your prayer :)

Monkey Man said...

Any story that has a skull in it has my rapt attention. Gonna ave to jump to Magpie Tales to see what the prompt is all about.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Wow. In first half, the image of Daniel Pearl came to mind ... the second half changed that ... You certainly are making an intimate acquaintance with different forms of near death experiences.

TechnoBabe said...

What a trip! You must have wanted to belong to the group very badly. I'm sorry, I would not have a smile as you did. Even a shaky smile. I know we all do silly things when we are young. Stupid things sometimes. The things are just very different. I think because I had trust issues I would not go along with anything that I did not have control of what was going on with me. You were a gutsy kid, still a kid if this was in college. Love the way you wrote this. Heart pounding.

Ronda Laveen said...

It was a neighborhood ritual when I was a kid to climb into this wooden toy box and all the rest of thikids would sit on the top. You only got out when time elapsed...shich seemed like forever or you freaked out screaming and pounding. Memories.

rel said...

fast
intense
so real
and so perspiring
from the heat of
a single match
stick!

CatLadyLarew said...

That's it! I'm not joining any more clubs!

Tracy said...

Creepy good stuff!

Cabo said...

Chi Phi! (Do you realize how hard it was for me not to say "Chiefy"?? ;) Awesome!

Beth said...

I always wanted to join a fraternity. Why won't they let girls join?

Mama Wheaton said...

Great piece! I have to do a collage of the play Hamlet and I was reading your piece I thought of the mood of Hamlet, I think you may have set the tone for me, thanks.

The Retired One said...

I would need years of therapy after that initiation....or hazing....
no group would be worth THAT to join to me!!!
I have heard stories of similar hazings where people died from some of the things they put people through...
I am so glad your spirit wasn't broken from that experience!

Titanium said...

Yeah.... nope. Couldn't do it. Not even for a mountaineering sponsorship. Uh-huh.

you are brilliant

just jill said...

scary, scary stuff!

Ocean Girl said...

Your "jungle" life was quite awesome (now knowing how you turned out. I'm all smiles Brian).

I just finished Dan Brown's the Lost Symbol and all trapped in caskets, being buried alive etc., really don't sit well with me at the moment. But even so Dan Brown can learn plenty from you, my friend.

♥ Boomer ♥ said...

Bravo!!!!!!!!!
Great job!

Mama Zen said...

This is almost unbearably creepy.

Jaime said...

fraternity initiation?

subby said...

Agreeing with JeffScape here, Brian...especially with your visuals...!

THE BEATY said...

great story. You write really well. makes the rest of us look like...

Devika said...

You are wonderfully creative, Brian...especially with horror stuff :)

Rites of passage and Initiation--- always wondered how many a spirit goes through...with awareness and without awareness,

wishes,
devika

R. Burnett Baker said...

"...secrets begin to burn the tips of your fingers, and they won't let you drop it."

Wow! Aside from the haunting story, that line speaks of many inconvenient truths that sometimes chase us! a great read!

lakeviewer said...

You were rumbling with that crowd, ah?

Matty said...

Brian, the entire time I'm reading this, I was thinking of your comment on the feature post at Gillian's blog, where you said that 90-95% of your stories are true. So was this some sort of initiation, or just one of the 5-10 % you made up?

LadyFi said...

What a thrilling and gripping read!

joanny said...

Brian

C'est magnifique! Thanks for sharing; and major bonus points for making my heart race, and giving me a good scare. After I read your post I made sure all the lights were on in my house and my doors and windows were locked.

Joanny

PS Thanks for leaving such a nice comment on my blog -- it made my day.

Marla said...

Thanks a lot, Brian. I won't be sleeping any time tonight.

FREAKY!!!!!

Uma Gowrishankar said...

God, that was really spooky. Love the way you end your tale (does it truly end at all???)-'some matches can't be blown out so easy, once lit. eventually the secrets begin to burn the tips of your fingers'. Looking forward to your next week magpie tale ...

Gillian said...

Great story...Now I'm gonna have nightmares!

Peter Goulding said...

A master craftsman at work. The single word paragraphs break it up nicely

mo.stoneskin said...

Concrete chewing knees. Beautifully put my friend.

Sam!! said...

Lovely piece of writing..enjoyed.. :)

Take care

jingle said...

u always shine!
Enjoy your ride.
I look up at u,
smiles.

Protege said...

I do not recognize this kind of initiation (ceremony), therefore this was a read of suspense to me.;))
xo
Zuzana

the walking man said...

...and this is why I keep my state unaligned with any cabal.

ishabelle said...

is too... :)

http://ishabellemanalo.wordpress.com/2010/02/23/you-deserve-a-star-today-award

järnebrand said...

Scary story... I was kind of expecting a twist in the end though, where you'd say that it was just your buddys throwing you a really mean kind of surprise bachelor party or something like that... But no, this was for real? Skull, coffin, the silence, and all... Scary stuff.

Harnett-Hargrove said...

...eventually the secrets begin to burn the tips of your fingers, and they won't let you drop it... there is a resonance here that is so very sharp. -J

slommler said...

Powerful! I could actually smell the earth and felt my breath falter. I felt entombed for a second! Argh! Whew! I was released!
Thanks
Hugs
SueAnn

Nessa said...

This is why I am not a "group" person.

Very provocative story.

RnPB Update

Ariel said...

This is scary. "They may even be reading this now." That sounds frightening.
On a lighter note, yes this can be a part of a horror story.

Tabor said...

Such good imagery that I really felt I was there with that poor soul.

Vicki Lane said...

That is seriously creepy! Great atmosphere and terrific ending!

Daniel said...

Confinement eats at me causing quickening madness. I can't ... I won't.

JStar said...

I am in awe of your writing skills. You gripped my attention from start to finish, I could wait to get to the end to figure out what it was about. I only wish I could write like this :)

ShAKirA CHOONG said...

My dearest Brian

Me got an award for you.....

Come and get it, please?

http://justmeshakirack.blogspot.com/2010/02/honesty-is-best-policy-honest-scrap.html

hugs
shakira

PropellerHeadMom said...

That was scary but awesome!

SUN DANCE HILL said...

Superb!

Kim A. said...

It is like some frat initiation gone all Illuminati-ish. Dan Brown rocks..and so do you. Please continue the story...pleasepleaseplease


Namaste

Jessie said...

that was a freaky hazing ritual, but a fabo read! you have serious talent. i'm glad you're writing a book.

i read your intro. over at Gillians, such a wonderful, true soul you have.

warm smiles,

Geetly said...

Wow! What effective use of words. I actually felt my knees rubbing on the concrete. Phew!

Lorraine said...

You should be a script/screen writer honestly you write chills like no one else

Lorraine said...

You should be a script/screen writer honestly you write chills like no one else

Barry said...

The tension in that story was masterful, Brian.

Whew!

Enchanted Oak said...

Made me think of Poe on this one, Brian. Your imagination takes flights of fancy from a simple prompt. Matches, huh? Well, let's see what we can do with a box of matches....

The Hausfrau said...

Secrets burning the tips of one's fingers: so unsettling, and a fine ending!

The Muse said...

...the way in...
the key, but, for a price.

...the piece packed in a jolt of emotion...in such a short span... succinct and precise...while forceful!

...the end of the story, mystery solved, or is it :)?

Lyn said...

So this is the path of young Drac..one of us at last..glad you passed the groping hands of Vlad!!

Everyday Goddess said...

OMG, buried alive for a frat? I have heard of this, but it would be harrowing. Reading it is close enough for me.

Everyday Goddess said...

Or did I just totally goof this up?

Grand Pooba said...

Dang, I never ever want to go through an initiation like that. No matter how bad I want to join the group!

Elizabeth said...

Wow. Hard to read so early in the morning -- a bit like a nightmare. The writing is gorgeous, suspenseful -- just wow. I'm glad to have "found" your blog through Magpie Tales and look forward to reading more and more.

Betsy said...

feeling a bit claustrophobic....LOL!

christine said...

A writing of worth, amazing!

Chris

Shadow said...

absolutely superb. secrets do burn our fingers...

buffalodick said...

I was never much of a joiner, but had a hazing or two in my life..Very good bit of writing here today!

The Girl From Cherry Blossom Street said...

I've heard shocking frat initiation rituals.

Coffin??

This is why I would never.....!

Barbara said...

Creepy story.
I actually knew a girl who thought she was a witch. She lived in an old house that had some kind of enclosure in a wall. She once tricked someone in there and shut the door on her. As I recall, the parents called the police.
When she grew up, she married well, had 5 kids and was a master bridge player. One day, I was in a car with her and she drove by an opponents home and said she was putting a hex on her so she'd lose at the bridge table the next day.
Honestly, the girl was certifiable.
However, she divorced, went to med school (I'm not kidding) and is now a dermatologist in the NYC area. Marrried well again and you would know who it was if I mentioned her name.
I wonder if she is still a witch?

amy said...

Wow ~ the kind of story that I want to look away from, but can't due to awesome storytelling...

well done! ...and, glad you survived!! =-)

C.M. Jackson said...

aggh I could feel the lid coming down just inches from face and my finger tips burning the smell of sulphur in my nostrils--great post!

Kathy said...

This was so awesome. I couldn't even breathe and was right there in that coffin. Absolutely brilliant!

AmyLK said...

I was thinking of rushing a fraternity!

Berowne said...

And they wonder why I'm not much of a joiner. :-)

martha said...

That is just plain scary - terrifying actually

Queenmothermamaw said...

Made me think of the scene in Dan Brown's The Lost Secret. When a tale like this causes claustrophobia while reading, it is a excellent written piece of work. Congrats.
QMM

Tracie said...

And I thought being forced to act like a slave at band camp was bad.

Realliveman said...

When is your book coming out, Brain??

Life with Kaishon said...

You are a powerful writer Brian.

♥ Braja said...

You're scaring me....that was awful. Can't imagine "joining" that one would be voluntary.

I took initiation, which was blissful, transcended the mundane and binding ties of material existence, and which takes me places daily....thank God it was the opposite of what you wrote :)

steviewren said...

Eeeeks!

Unknown Mami said...

I have a feeling this will manifest itself as a dream for me tonight or shall I say, nightmare.

Jennifer said...

Oh my - thought it was another story... actually it could be a number of stories. Well done - I was right with you. (I'm still getting over it.)

Angie Muresan said...

Great story! But good lord the things people put themselves through!

Pat said...

Wow! This is very Stephen Kingish and Otinish! And it's TRUE? Yikes! I could NEVER do that! It was hard enough to READ it, let alone experience it! Great writing, for we were right alongside you in that coffin!

♥ Braja said...

I just joined Magpie Tales. I put up a section called Just Write, and I'm posting them under there...nyer nyer :)

Her Majesty Lisa (LadyWanderlust) said...

as I read, I suspected a hazing ritual instead of something more ominous. I don't get hazing at all? Seems antiquated, outdated, and inhumane. But then again I never pledged a sorority as I was a faithful GDI. :)

Corrie Howe said...

I agree with secret agent woman, there is nothing I want that much. But then again, I'm a woman and not a man...maybe that's the difference.