Erin Ritch

Author, Mom, Founder of No Wyverns Publishing

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Tag: paranormal

Complete the Story…”The Gray Man’s Street”

Now that Myth is locked in and launches in LESS THAN A WEEK (*breathe*), I’m allowing myself some time to actually watch TV and not feel guilty about it. I used to follow many, many shows but now it seems the only ones I make time for is Game of Thrones or Big Brother. (I feel this sentence sums me up very well.)

Then I learned about a Netflix series called Stranger Things. It quickly became my latest obsession, it reminds me of The X-Files and Twin Peaks with all sorts of paranormal goodness. And it’s set in the 80’s?? You have me hooked, Netflix. Hooked. I may only be three episodes in, but I love the story and style of the show in general.

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It got me inspired to try one of the story prompts from Complete The Story, a gift from my husband for my birthday, intended for moments precisely like this where I want to write a quick, easy story. I wanted to write a story that happens in the world (or world similar to) that of Stranger Things.

 

 

 

Erin Scribble

 

 

This is a really fun book, there are literally (tee hee) story prompts for every situation you can think of, with only a single page commitment.Unless you’re like myself, that is, and quickly spilled over into three additional pieces of paper.

 

 

 

 

 

So I hope you enjoy…and if you love the paranormal and haven’t watched Stranger Things yet…go watch it!

 

THE GRAY MAN’S STREET

(Words in bold are taken from Complete the Story)

They were safe, for the time being. But it was no time to let their guard down. Slowly, Samuel opened the car door, trying his best not to make a sound. He looked both ways down the street. All he could see was darkness with occasional pools of light beneath the bleary street lights. He returned inside and locked the door, checking it twice.

“Did you see it?” Melanie whispered. A small trickle of blood traveled down the side of her face. She had experienced the worst of the impact, her light frame tossed like a rag doll as they spun across the street.

Samuel wiped his hair out of his face. He became aware of the condensation building on the windshield. He hoped it wouldn’t draw attention.

“Nothing,” he said finally. “I don’t know what direction it took off in. It was so…fast.”

“Let’s keep going! Please!” Melanie begged.

“Shh!” Samuel snapped. “We can’t! The engine, I’m not sure it will start. I’m not willing to risk-“

“I see it!” Melanie squealed, sobbing into her hands.

A figure appeared at the end of the dim headlights, crawling on its belly towards the car. It was the creature that hit their car, a flash of gray that forced them into a spiral. They had injured it, too. Samuel knew from the cry it made at impact. He fumbled with the keys and tried the ignition. It ticked but failed to spark to life.

“C’mon…” Samuel urged, pumping the limp accelerator.

The figure crawled closer. It wasn’t an animal. It wasn’t a man. But it had eyes and it met Samuel’s gaze without flinching. And without fear.

“Get it in the back seat,” Samuel shouted, unbuckling Melanie’s seatbelt  and helping her over the seat. “Stay down!”

“What are you going to do? Shouldn’t we run?” she sobbed.

Samuel tore through the contents of the glove box, watching as the creature bumped against the headlights. He saw a glimpse of slimy gray skin, stained red with blood. Dark eyes drew up to meet Samuel’s gaze as it thumped atop the hood of the car.

“Back!” Samuel shouted, pointing his father’s flashlight in the creature’s eyes. It howled and dropped to the side, scratching and fumbling with the locked door. Samuel held onto the door. “No!”

Then there was nothing. The air was so quiet that Samuel could hear the far off bark of his dog, probably watching for him from the living room window. Melanie tried to muffle her sobs from the floor of the backseat. Samuel carefully lifted his fingers from the door, one at a time. In a breath, the door was ripped from the vehicle and thrown into the woods.

Samuel!”

“This song is the best! The absolute best, turn it up!”

Todd nodded and increased the volume of the car radio. He accelerated, trying to keep up with the beat of the music. Tiffany hummed with the music, settling back into her seat. She watched the twilight treetops flash by, a blur in her sleepy state.

“Is that Samuel’s dad’s car?” Todd shouted as he turned down the music. He pointed to the vehicle ahead of them, overturned on the side of the road.

“Oh my gosh…” Tiffany gasped, sitting up. “It totally is! And I bet you Melanie is with him, too.”

“Should we stop or something?” Todd asked with a shrug.

“Are you crazy? That’s all on them.”

“But maybe we should help-“

“Just let the Gray Man do its thing,” Tiffany yawned, settling back into her seat. “And turn the music back up!”

“Dear Andromeda”

 

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Things I Love….The X-Files

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I want to go there.

Image credit Alistair McMillan

Seriously, I love The X-Files. Like, seriously.

My brother and I were obsessed with The X-Files, I think I have watched the entire series twice through. (Although, that last season was a bit…well…we won’t talk about it.) I really credit that show with inspiring my love of the paranormal in storytelling. I loved the mix of conspiracy and “other worlds” in those quick sixty minutes. Of course, the show became even more relevant to me as it was obviously filmed in the Pacific Northwest. (*GASP* I live in the Pacific Northwest, too!)

I’ve read several articles on how many young women were inspired by the character of Dana Scully. I can understand that completely. She was analytical yet emotional. She was holding her own in a very male-dominant workplace. She’s also able to stick to her guns against her relentless male partner Fox Mulder. I liked and appreciated this dynamic. When I watched the show later as a more critical adult, I liked the mix of humor that the show creators kept throughout the series.

Tonight is The X-Files “revival” and I’m at close to same-level of excitement as I had for Star Wars/The Force Awakens. (Please be good. Please be good.) I think this excitement stems from that beautiful feeling of getting to revisit your childhood/teenage years, when you experienced these stories for the first time.

I wasn’t disappointed with Star Wars. I want to believe I won’t be disappointed with X-Files, either. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)

“The Fire in the Sunrise” by Erin Ritch

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Image credit Steve Brand

 

It has been a long, long drought. Some say it has been as long as they can remember, but I know better. Because I remember the day I first saw that dry earth burn. It was the night of my nineteenth birthday and that fire burned forever on the horizon, until it faded into the sunrise and they became one. The wind gathered the ashes and choked us until we couldn’t breathe and some never did again. Now, on this evening and this sunset, I am six and twenty. My name is Tulie and the earth is still burning.

“Shh,” I whisper to Graham, my brown bull steer. He lazily looks up as I stroke his smooth coat then bows his head again. Some people say he is no use, just a bag of old bones. But he is my one companion. We are standing in the field outside my house, where the dry grass has learned to live another way. With seven years of no rain, everything has learned to live another way. The sun breaks through the clouds one last time and lights the grass with a hot amber hue. Graham flicks away a stubborn fly with his tail and the wind whips the grass around him. Now the sun has almost completely set and the long night will start. And they begin to appear, there on the mountain crests.

I have come to call them “shadow creatures” or “dark people,” but truly I have no idea what they are. They started one night in the darkness, as I slept peacefully in my house alone. I was awoken by Graham, baying loudly from his field. The doors of my house rattled and a great wind slammed the front door open. It was then I saw them, dark silhouettes against a black, burning sky. Figures that looked human, yet not. Voices that sounded real, yet unreal. I screamed and they fled but they came back, night after night, only to leave at the break of every dawn.

I barely remember sleep. I know I sleep at times, but not enough to register or make a difference. No one in town knows what these creatures are nor are they interested in helping me. The world has become a place where everyone is on their own; surviving is hard enough without helping another to survive as well. So we continue on, casting strange glances. As I said, Graham is my only companion. And my house hasn’t burned down yet, so we will fight to stay, night after night.

Try as I might, Graham will not leave his field. I can tell the time of day by the way the shadows cast against his body, like a living sundial. Luckily, the dark people seem to have no interest in him. So I bid him goodnight as I always do, with a hug around the neck. In his eyes I see the only softness in my world and I ask him to live just one more night, every time.

I have become braver as the months have gone by. I used to lock myself in my house hours before actual darkness fell. But that became miserable. Then I would wait until sunset and watch the dark people from the safety of my kitchen window. I observed them and realized they were slow and methodical. Finally, I am able to stay outside until night has completely taken over and those dark people are only steps away, inching closer and closer. One day, I may try to reach out and touch them. But not tonight, so I wave one last goodbye to Graham and lock myself inside. Then the attacks start.

Tonight, the bangs seem more aggressive than usual. Funny how I am classifying the aggressiveness of bangs, yet it has come to that. First, they started out as little taps. Trying it out, seeing if I would react. Now, the bangs are like anvils being dropped from the heavens. I cover my ears but my teeth rattle at each drop. The dark people’s garbled voices make my stomach tie in knots, shrieks in the night that drive my imagination wild. I sit down on the ground with my back against the front door in case I need to flee, my arms wrapped around my knees. My long skirts are filthy from the ashy dirt covering the wood floors. Try as I might to sweep it up, the dust never goes away.

Yes, tonight is different. The bangs that usually ring through the night have stopped. I lift my head from where I had buried it between my arms. Silence. It is so silent I think I can hear Graham’s steady chewing of dry grass out in the field. I wait for a long time, breathing heavily through my mouth until it grows dry. I begin to feel safe in the quiet of my house and dream of the tea that I used to drink to calm myself to sleep. I crave that normalcy more than I realized and begin to crawl into the kitchen, my skirts picking up more and more dirt along the way.

Unfortunately, the one window I left unboarded was the one over the kitchen sink. I couldn’t bear to cover it, I had too many dreamy memories of dishes in the milky sink and the afternoon view out that window, light gleaming off the clean glasses. But now, that window was my terror as I imagined dark faces on the other side, waiting for me to see them. But that tea called to me and I stood quickly at the sink, pumping water furiously into my tea kettle, refusing to look up.

I had become expert at starting a fire safely and cleanly in my little stove. I was respectful of fire. I knew I needed it, though it was burning all around me, destroying everything in its wake. Slightly less tense now that I was away from the window, I start my small fire and let it heat the tea kettle. Before long, it begins to whistle and I slide into the kitchen for my tea and strainer.

Instinctively, I gather my apron over my face as the kitchen window glass shatters in front of me. Graham begins to bay loudly, now very audible through the open window. I drop to the ground and slide up against the counters, fumbling for anything in the darkness. Loud thumping begins again on the roof, a dozen scattered footsteps. I shriek as dirty water dumps down my chimney, extinguishing my small fire and knocking over my tea kettle. A cloud of damp ash floats into the air and for a quick moment, I see their figures darting around the room.

“Leave!” I scream louder than I ever had before. My hot tears wash the ashes from my stinging eyes as I struggle to see.

With a furious rush, the house is still again. I leap to my feet and quickly throw a blanket over the broken window, not really believing it will help but at least its something. Graham laments for me outside, helpless in his field of straw. I am drenched with dirty water, my skirts and petticoats heavier than they already were. But I won’t dare move from this place until sunrise and the dark people leave again.

I am not sure if I fall asleep or if time truly moved that strangely. But slowly, a warm glow begins to fill the living room, exemplified by the yellow blanket hanging across the kitchen window. For a moment my stomach drops, fearing it is the fires that have finally reached me. But then I hear Graham’s morning song, his signal to me that light is on the horizon. Telling me that night is almost gone. I reach for my teapot and hold it against my chest. Someday I will make that cup of tea. Someday, they won’t stop me.

Cautiously, I open the front door. I know it is safe because small slivers of light begin to stretch beneath the wooden door and touch my fingertips. The warm air blasts me in the face but I don’t care. I watch the dark people retreat into the horizon, strange flickerings of shapes that go in and out of focus. And for a moment, I think one turns back and looks at me. And I wonder what I look like to them and if I am their dark creature in the night.

“I can’t figure this place out. For the life of me, I can’t,” John admits, shaking his head as he lights up a cigarette. He stops and stares at the abandoned house they have been hired to disassemble for scrap.

“Really? C’mon,” Ed chides, grabbing the cigarette and dousing it in the grass. “Haven’t we put out enough fires today?”

John continues to stare at the empty house, outlined against the setting sun. The overgrown field surrounding it is dry and bare, scattered only with trash and the parched bones of old farm animals. The rest of his crew have left for the day, complaining of the heat and strange sounds coming from inside that ruin of a house.

“Maybe the stories are true,” Ed sighs, taking off his hat and wiping the sweat away. The day truly had been especially hot and he was grateful for the thought of his air conditioning back in his car, parked only footsteps away.

“Ah, now you c’mon,” John chortles, but pauses. “You say a girl burned here? For real?”

“Oh yeah, on her birthday of all days,” Ed sighed. “It was a dry summer and the fire caught all around these fields here, killed a bunch of livestock that were trapped. The fire burned for days but that damn house survived, though.”

“Hmm,” John lit another cigarette. He squinted his eyes into the setting sun. “It did at that.”