Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Svetla always got invited to parties, especially to Halloween parties. There she sat, cute in the corner, backed by the flowered wallpaper in style those days, sketching the shapes just as cute as she on a paper she held in her lap. At midnight the squiggles slipped from the paper and slithered along the floor until sensing the warmth of a human body. They inched upwards along the human obelisk, slowly, dissolving like tattoos into the skin. Deeper they went into the blood, and soon the victims saw those very shapes floating before their field of vision, following wherever they turned.

I am a psychiatrist by profession and had treated several persons of this curious malady. All had had to be locked away in a room cushioned with mats, the sound dampened, so as to stifle screams as disturbing to us as the figures obviously were to the sufferers.

I noted the following conversation with one of my patients. She was brought to me fully subdued with the mind-stilling medicines we use. This was an opportunity to satisfy my curiosity about the phenomenon, so I began to question her. She spoke flatly, without emotion, and despite the extreme dosage, there was no relaxed smile.

Doctor: How did it all begin?
Patient: I felt a breeze upon my ankle, a transient touch, a sensation that vanished just as quickly as it was placed. I was not alarmed because the shapes appeared sweet somehow.
Doctor: What happened next?
Patient: They flirted with my skin. Their touch was like warm vapor blown onto a single circle of flesh. I wanted them to continue. It was a new sensation, one that the touch of a hand or a tongue's caress could never create.
Doctor: What made it so?
Patient: The touch pulsated ever deeper into the skin, first the surface, then to the buried nerves, then to the surface again.
Doctor: How long did this continue?
Patient: Not long. I don't know. At last it submerged into me. Strange, I felt the substance of it expanding into my veins, and squirming upwards towards my brain like mindless bits of larvae.
Doctor: What did you feel as it moved closer to your brain?
Patient: It was like a prelude. I knew not of what. But something would happen when it reached my consciousness. It might be wonderful -- or unspeakably horrid. I did not know.
Doctor: This foreboding, can you describe it?

She shrieked this suddenly, and stood up, taking violent swipes at the empty air before her, a surprising reaction under such sturdy sedation. Finally after about ten minutes I could calm her. She sat down once more, and her emotionless voice resumed.

Doctor: Please continue.
Patient: I cannot go on. They are not sweet anymore.

This was not an easy condition to treat, but after weeks of therapy I finally reached my patients, worked my way into their dreadful fantasies and pulled them out dripping as from a fall into the dead waters of a stagnant lake. Soon after, I could convince them that the figures were harmless. In time the patients could safely return to the perils and stresses of actual life. The special rooms and straitjackets were no longer needed for them.

That was my occupation during the day. But I also had a personal life. On occasion my path led again to one of my former trusts. On a Halloween night of new moon darkness I saw her glance up from where she sat, surveying us, the evening's celebrants, as we stood side-by-side chatting in arbitrary cliques. Most were in rapture from the drink, the company and the mood of the night, but I was also one to observe. I stared at her a moment too long. She noticed and as our eyes met for that one sacreligious second her soft features hardened into severity. The others felt it unconsciously. All around, the conversation coagulated into silence. At that she returned to her task, sketching the figures she had seen. Something inside me began to shudder.

Story #411

Anyone who would like to contribute their own terrifying inspiration to the above photo is very welcome to do so! Thanks everyone for being so patient with me during my absense, and most of all, thanks for coming back.

Past Halloween stories:
2006: #378
2005: #301
2004: #64

Things to do:
1) answer my e-mails of the last weeks
2) answer all your comments
3) write a story to photo 408
4) read and comment the stories to 408
5) read all your blogs


Mindful Mimi said...

Isabel was sitting in the waiting room of the therapist her parents had sent her to see. He had given her a pen and paper and told her to draw her dreams of last night. Dream interpretation, he said, would reveal why she had violent tendencies and wanted to kill little birds.
The pattern of the tiled wall behind her was starting to give her a severe headache and she could feel her eyes begin to tingle and itch. Not a good sign. All she wanted to do was to get out of this room and run into the woods. She tried to concentrate on her task in order to draw what she hoped would let the therapist conclude she was normal. She had no time to waste sitting around waiting rooms being analysed. She had a task to fulfill. She had birds to kill.

Indeterminacy said...

That's great Mimi! I think it isn't necessarily an easy photo for halloween stories, but in a few sentences, you make it so. We have some vague parallels in our two stories.

Anonymous said...

Isabella looked up quickly as her brother snapped her picture. "Get out of here" she yelled, "this is my room." She gave a defiant stare as if to push him away. "Cool down" said her brother, I'm going to post your picture on MySpace. Isabella was outraged, "how could you?!?" she exclaimed as she jumped up and bit his neck like a vampire. The babysitter came in and Isabella bit her neck as well. "Get out, get out of here" she screamed. The brother had managed to call 911 on his cell phone. "Please help, I have been bitten by a vampire" he said as a voice on the other end replied "Sure you have, and I'm George Bush." Disappointed at the service from 911 he picked up a book on magic that was lying near by and chanted some magic words, "abba zabba volio vooz kojack!" suddenly a witch appeared and healed his neck and also healed the babysitters neck. "Oh thank you so much" said the brother. But, as he turned around there was Isabella with a cup of coffee in one hand and a butcher knife in the other. "What the hell!" he exclaimed as she lunged at him, just then the good witch mumbled some magic words and turned Isabella into a black cat. Isabella curled up in the corner and fell asleep. Then the good witch flew away saying "Happy Halloween to all and to all a good night."

Indeterminacy said...

Mr. Sniff! I am honored by your story - enjoyed it very much. Now I know why some of the myspace pictures scare me. Cool how she bit his neck, just like that.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Indie! so great to see you back! Thanks, I did what I could... myspace, vampires, witches, and black cats... I guess she bit his neck in a fit of uncontrollable rage.

C Merry said...

Knowing her rival would be doing her mime act at the talent show that night she gazed at her picture and murmurred..
"You look about a size 6.. a 50 pound bucket of sand ought to do it."
Her talent for drawing things that became real was extremely handy in these matters.
Sure, buckets falling on crazed females from rafters on stages is hardly original but it would do the trick.. plus the sand splattered onstage would soak up any resulting goo and not hinder her softshoe routine as she bravely takes the stage with tears in her eyes because her recently squashed friend would want the show to go on right? No one would miss a mime that much anyway.. She already had the space for the trophy cleared out.

Indeterminacy said...

I'm so happy you stopped by Cmerry! Maybe I did pick out the right picture - the inspirations are really great. Your story fits the image like a handmade glove.

admin said...

Even the lack of meaning was meaningful itself, and thats why everything had to have a meaning. At least, thats what Deanna used to think. Her sharp intellect and flawless logic had never betrayed her before, that was until she started sensing the ... Presence! A girl who values clarity above all might have been shocked and scared upon attracting to herself emotions. But Deanna thought that her intellect was so perfect that could embrace and find reason within the wildest emotions. Firstly, he came to her dreams, strickt and cold looking in reality, with his blue eyes, he transformed himself into a spring of neverending passion. Her nights became tense and her desires were starting to overcome her. Days passed and she confronted him, but in vain. He knew nothing of his subconsious desires. Or did he? Determined to find out she closed her eyes and called upon her logic, in the middle of the Samhain night. He pushed her hands to grab pen and paper and he started to draw, through her. Words that had no meaning transformed into images of reason, a kind of reason only she could interprete. He posessed her and she went into a trance she had never known before. The feelings became gross and the Presence had returned. It was inevitable and grave. Only this time it was not a dream. Knowing what to expect she opened her eyes and looked deep into his. "Finally, you have come" said Deanna in a cold manner. "Do you want a cup of coffe?"

Anonymous said...

She diligently doodled away. Crazy lines ran all through the page, crossing, crashing, stopping suddenly. Interwoven in that ever changing cobweb, the lines traveled infinitely short distances, looped and flied away only to land and twist again and again on the white surface. Moving independently from the rest of the body, the hand illuminated the whiteness of the page with its black ink. Slowly, some lines gave place to vague figures, then consistent textures, then believable perspectives.

Finally the drawing was finished.

She couldn’t believe her eyes: staring back at her from the page once blank was the perfect imitation of her own image. Even more surprising, the image moved. It continued to draw as she did, and little by little she discovered that the woman in the picture was doing exactly what she had done a minute ago. Noticing a big black box next to her, she drew it, and the illustrated woman did so in time.

Suddenly, the illustrated woman stopped doodling, looked up at her creator maliciously and picked up an ink bottle. Smiling, she uncorked the bottle and, in one swift move, poured the dark content on her own little drawing.

When he opened the studio door that night on his arrival from work, he found his loved-one lying on the floor, cold and covered in black ink.

It's a lousy story, but I thought I had to contribute in some way. I'm back for good this time. =)

Indeterminacy said...

Thanks Viruswitch! Possession is cool, and a special kind of intimacy. Enjoyed your story. Thanks for coming by after so long!

San: It's a fantastic story! Spooky and terrifying, if you think into it. Well done, and great that you're back for good. I'll add a link to your new site sometime today. Do you have a German language blog as well? I would like to stop by there too.

Frances bo bancess said...

"Bunny, bunny, bunny, bunny" rachel sung quietly as she bounced softly on her sister's bed. "bunny, bunny, bounce!" She jumped off the bed, landing with a thump, causing her sister to look up from her drawings.
"Are you drawing bunnies sis?" rachel asked, but her sister just returned to her scribbles.
"they kinda look like bunnies!"
"they're not bunnies"
rachel tried to get a closer look and pointed at one of them.
"see here, that could be her ears, and that could be her nose and that could be her fluffy white tail! you're so good at drawing sis! bunnies are so cool! I'm so glad I'm a bunny this halloween! let's go get candy!" and with that she hopped out of her sisters room singing "bunny rabbit, bunny rabbit, bou~ce bou~ce bou~ce" wiggling her little fluffy tail.

hahaha, i guess rabbits are more of an Easter thing. but just picturing a 6 year old girl in a cute fluffy bunny suit amongst the ghouls, witches and vampires makes me wonder if I'll ever understand halloween.

Indeterminacy said...

Frances: Bunnies are sweet - I think you captured the spirit of halloween. Sometimes it's also fun to be spooky. How about a vampire bunny?

It's so fun to read these stories as they come in - usually I wait until having written mine, and that's done.

Diane Dehler said...

Don't worry about catching up with my comments etc. I know you are thinking about all of us and little by little you will catch up. I am so glad that your wife is recovering.

Indeterminacy said...

Thank you Princess Haiku, there are so many comments I did want to reply to and still will. But I will take it a little at a time as you suggest.

Unknown said...

That was spooky. I bet she drew a killer couch.

"This is the new wallpaper"

C Merry said...

gorgeously spooky! :)

Anonymous said...

This picture reminds me of that story, "The Yellow Wallpaper."

I don't know why I'm so nervous. I want to see my baby, but my husband says it's not safe. I can only draw pictures of him, and his stuffed bunny. I showed them to Harold, hoping he would see how much I missed my son, but he said it looked as if they were falling, and he couldn't risk my throwing them out the window, where they would fall and fall, until--
Perhaps he's right. Perhaps I am too nervous. It's just that ever since they shut me up here, I've had to live with this wallpaper. The repetitious floral motif. The squares and diamonds. I counted them one day: two hundred and forty-seven on this wall--one's torn off a bit. Funny, I don't recall--I may have done it.
You see, it's just that there's no point--square after square after square, going nowhere.
Till you get to the window--Oh! There's Harold now. The baby's not with him. See, I drew the baby here. He's flying. Flying out the window with his bunny, away from all these--squares. Into a real garden. See?

Indeterminacy said...

Doug: hohoho you made me laugh like it was Christmas.

Cmerry: I'm glad I got the spooky mood. I was hoping it would work, but I am never sure beforehand how it will really go over.

Mrs Weirsdo: Funny you should mention The Yellow Wallpaper. I was going to post a collection of Lucille Fletcher's radio plays at, but hadn't gotten around to it yet. I did one for Joan Bennett.

Your monolog really captures the mood of things not quite right, and is a nice homage to Lucille Fletcher.

Banno said...

You've been having a rough time, but glad to hear your wife's home now, better, and doing well. It must have been scary.

And then, in the midst of all that, you write such a scary story. I've always shuddered at the terror in simple things, but you've made even cute drawings scary now.

Indeterminacy said...

Hi Banno, thanks so much for your comment. Yes it's been a very trying time - my wife is very lucky to have recovered as she had. We are all more relaxed now and can think of the banalities of life again, like my stories.
I didn't mean to ruin cute drawings for you. I wanted my story to be scary but didn't really think it made it.

Anonymous said...

Light never spoke. Nobody ever asked why. Not that she'd answer.

She was not dumb. She could write. In fact, she carried a pad of paper and a black pen everywhere. But she didn't. Instead she drew shapes. Strange shapes. Shapes that curled, twisted, slithered, crept, writhed on the page without ever moving an inch. She used a new sheet every day.

Her parents were quite proud of her, for reasons known by all parents. But Light, who was not her name, scared all who saw her. Something lurking behind her black eyes seemed to warn all to stay back, run, save yourself. And they did. Everybody gave Light a wide berth.

Her parents wanted to exhibit Light's drawings, but they couldn't. At the end of every day she ripped them into a million pieces and threw them into the fireplace. After that, she gave a satisfied smile, and crawled to bed, slowly, excruciatingly, as if something had sucked all energy out of her. And the next morning at breakfast she would start a new drawing.

But finally the day came when a lonely man who wanted a dance parter asked her at a small Halloween party at her parent's house, "Light, what do you draw?"

Light looked up and locked eyes with him. It was a thoroughly disconcerting experience. He felt like she was examining his mind with her piercing, haunted black gaze, sorting through every thought, deciding if he was worthy to know her secret. Finally she spoke, barely more than a whisper, for the first time since she was three and told her parents she saw a black shadow by the window.

"I could tell you. But it might kill you."

Might. Curiousity overcame him. "Tell me," he murmured.

"Demons." The word came like a death toll. "I can see them, and only I. I bear the burden for the world. And I must keep the world safe. They do not know. If only they did! Demons, lurking everywhere, black and slithering, ready to take over the world and feed on your soul. I draw them, every one, and destroy them in the night. It keeps me sane, keeps me alert, as if I slip I will fall to them. And it weakens them, somehow. I do not know why." He was starting to feel oddly numb. "Ignorance is your only escape. Once you know them, they have a way in. That is all they need. I am the only one strong enough to hold them back." He was starting to hurt. All over. The world was fading... The last thing he heard was Light saying in her weak little voice, "I am sorry."

(sorry for the longness, I just couldn't seem to stop. I scared myself slightly with this, truthfully, with what I was able to write. It is kind of like yours, isn't it?)

Anonymous said...

Lucille Fletcher? She adapted the story and made it into a radio play?
Nice to know, but I just did this from my memory of the Charlotte Perkins Gilman story, which I've read two or three times, and not lately.

Indeterminacy said...

Tailspin: That was kind of excellent, and extremely chilling. It matches the photo quite well. If I see her drawing I won't interrupt her. For god's sake, nobody interrupt her!

p.s. I didn#t find it too long. Everything worked toward building the mood.

Anonymous said...

It's wonderful to have you back.

Great start too.

Madeleine said...

That was quite a treat, Inde! I felt it crawl into me as well, and the end was perfect cold stare.

Anonymous said...

Btw, I'm shuddering now. Creepy story, Indie.

Indeterminacy said...

Cooper: Thank you - I think if I only post one story each three months, it might turn out better than daily. On the other hand I might get so lazy I only post once a year. But I'm glad I could give you something good to read.

Madeleine: Thank you for the nice words, too. My intention in the story was to scare the psychiatrist, and it was so easy, so I really set him up for his fate at the end. I didn't even have to describe what probably would happen next.

Mrs Weirsdo: Maybe I should stick to horror. If the writing fails, I can always use my face.

Anonymous said...

You felt like shaking the good old counter-transfer once again, but this time, you quite could not make yourself to do so quite as easily. Something within told you the invisible existed, although not your invisible reality, but hers. It made sense in its own way, and you could almost touch the shadows and sweep them off her shoulder. Or so would you have liked to do. But the time was up, at least 25 minutes behind schedule, with the family waiting. It clearly was time to leave. You patted her back with a few caring words and called a taxi, for she was alone, and vanished in your own life, mentally brushing the shades off your shoulder. If a shiver persisted, you decided to ignore it and shake it off, or you would have ignored your calling.

masterymistery said...

Hi ann marie, how cool to run into you at Indie's place. Your story, like much of your work, is eerily compelling and evocative, offering the reader just enough mental space to construct zer own meaning within the framework provided by your language and concepts.

Hi Indie, thanks for linking to my blogs. Really pleased that you're picking up where you left off with Synchronicity. Really enjoyed #411 (about Svetla): dark and moody, just the way I like it. Needs a title though.


Steve S.

portal to the multiverse

The Mushroom said...

bro: "Whatcha doin'?"
sis: "Cartooning."
bro: "Whatcha cartoonin'?"
sis: "Relatives."
bro: "Lemme see..."
[she tried to jerk it away but wasn't quick enough to prevent him from getting a good look]
sis: "You can go away now."
bro: "They're all big and round! We don't have more than two people in the family that look nearly like that."
sis: "In three weeks, what day will we be around all these people again?"
bro: [thinks for five seconds] Uh, Thanksgiving?
sis: "Very good. And?"
bro: "So this is an 'after' picture?"
sis: "Drawn before. Like a psychic prediction."
bro: "Oh yeah, right, like we all don't know already what they're gonna look like, sitting around in front of the football game with their pants open and falling asleep."
sis: "I've got a few years on you, so let me fill you in on something: Every year they deny they're going to look like this. And every year they do. It's like that time you took a tape recorder to Grandpa to prove that he snores, after he'd swore up and down that he doesn't."
bro: "Heh, yeah, that still didn't convince him though."
sis: "And they're still going to deny they look like unfried donuts after dinner, even if you took photographs. That's why I'm drawing this now."
bro: "They don't have faces, so who is who?"
sis: "That's the beauty of it. I have the bodies already done, I just have to add faces to whose bodies they wind up matching."
bro: "Can I help?"
sis: "You can help me in three ways: First, next month you can talk a lot about how good the turkey and stuffing are, and they'll eat more."
bro: "Sure!"
sis: "Second, you can compare my drawings to the people and help assign bodies to faces."
bro: "That sounds like fun. What's number three?"
sis: "YOU CAN LEAVE ME ALONE NOW. The artiste is trying to work here! Shoo!"

She bears a little resemblance to Emily The Strange.

And welcome back into the swing of things, Indie. Nice picture but not the most obvious in caption writing, by how I do my business.

Anonymous said...

I jus luv that boy from S.A.C.A.D.A. He is soooooo kute. I wood luv to illustrate his storees. And he rights good storees when he growed up, two!

Ariel the Thief said...

It always makes me feel good when I make a list of things should be done. Whether I do them or not, it is a good thing that I have them in a list. Like I locked them up or something.

Glad to see you back. :-)

Unknown said...

Missi went to one of THOSE schools where art and writing were sneered at and only science and math were respected. The only place she could find to draw was in the girls' bathroom at lunch. This worked pretty well until the one day when Priscilla the Math Club Queen walked in on her.
"Ooooh, I'm gonna TELLL!!!!" Priscilla cried.
Being caught involved in artistic expression was far worse than being caught smoking in the bathroom. Even being caught smoking crack would have been better than this. Missi was doomed.

M.P. said...

Great to know everything is getting back to normal. No need to thank... :)

masterymistery said...

I haven't got a story for this photo, but I know a master-storyteller who does: Stephen King. In his book "Everything's Eventual" is a story about weird geometry and evil shapes. It's freaky. Highly entertaining. Some extracts:

"...wrote words I'd never heard and drew shapes I'd never seen -- shapes nobody had ever seen: not just sankofites but japps and fouders and mirks...

...and all my symbols were there -- circles, triangles, japps, mirks, rhomboids, bews, smims, fouders, hundreds more."



PS if anyone is interested I've just finished a very amusing story called "Scapegoat"

portal to the multiverse
wicked and sick
very short stories

rev. billy bob gisher ©2008 said...

i will toss my hat into the ring, but give me a few days and i will attempt to give the little lady some narrative to add to her pic. she looks like she deserves one.

roachz said...

I want to eat your thoughts and become brilliant.

shiny said...

She felt like a disembodied head stuck on the cardboard cut out of a girl. It was uncomfortable. No wonder clenched her jaw and drew weird things.

shiny said...

Oops, no wonder SHE clenched her jaw, I meant, sorry.

Hope things are better with you Indie.

Anonymous said...

I see Mindful Mimi had the same feeling about the wall I did.

Ben Latini said...

Why can't I have Jane? I think we would mix together like friendly chemicals, bubble up and be warm. Can't I at least see her give up a bit of a smile? She's not pretty so much as striking. Seeing her is like looking at a picture that makes you wonder who took the picture and why. You might not be surprised to see her picture stuck to the back wheel of a gypsy's cart as it clatters down the road. She told me she was an artist, I told her I loved her. We both sat and drank something in red plastic cups. What happened from there is wordless and abstract. We woke up inside the sunrise and quivered like a virgin flower watching the bumblebee's slow approach. I entered her roughly...her eyes a wide, pleading portrait of youth. Her lips fired off a nervous prayer. She scrambled to get dressed when we were done. I asked her to draw me, So I could feel like Rose from Titanic, but she didn't know what I meant. I'm still waiting to see that smile.

A few laters later we found that she'd hung herself in the closet at one of Mark's parties. She ended her suicide note with a smilie face which was probably just a coincidence.

Diane Dehler said...

She slipped the real drawing beneath the pad and doodled away. -But not innocently, you could tell that by her eyes.

Acquaintance said...

Indie you should come back by you'll notice something different. lol :P

Acquaintance said...

Also have you been able to finish or start the story for photo #408 yet?

Anonymous said...

sorry it took so long, but i had to wait till the traffic died from msnbc on another piece to publish my photo story. thanks allot boss, as i think i might have got something out of it beyond just a few keystrokes. click on my name to get at it.

Indeterminacy said...

Mrs Wiersdo: Sorry, I missed answering your comment. I made a mistake. Lucille Fletcher didn't adapt Yellow Wallpaper, but there is a pretty terrifying radio adaptation of it in the Suspense series. You can find it at the

Ann-Marie: Your story gave me an eerie chill, and painted with such few words. Thank you for sharing your inspiration.

Mistery: You're welcome, for the links. You have some really geat stories at your place. I never gave titles to any of my stories, though sometimes the stories suggest a certain title themselves. In the end I considered the numbers to be enough. I wanted the stories to stand without a title. I have no idea what I would call this one.

Thanks also for the Stephen King refernce - I wasn't aware of that title. I haven't read any Stephen King since 1987. But lots of Gustav Meyrink and Edgar Allen Poe.

Mushroom: Thanks for the captivating dialogue. I went to the Emily Strange site - you are right. You know everything in the Internet. I thought this photo would be difficult, but it seems to have worked well. Now I'm stuck on what the next photo will be.

Dusty Doggy: That is a strange site, that S.A.C.A.D.A. page - but I don't really know much about it.

Ariel: I'm glad you still remember me after I've been gone so long. I am still working through that list I made, but it just won't seem to go away.

Lily Strange: Poor Missi. Isn't there an artist colony she could be sent to in exile?

M.P.: Nice to see you again. I'm glad you are still out there in the blogosphere. Will you post in German again sometime soon?

Roachz: My thoughts are yours to nibble. Make sure you have some alka seltzer nearby.

Observer: What a feeling to have, to be cardboard cutout. It sounds like a terrifying nightmare, as well. Things are much better now - I'm glad my thoughts could return to these more playful activities.

Live@Groucho: Your story was stunning - and I was vividly drawn in by the poetic language. You're a master!

Princess Haiku: Yes, something is going on. She's not as innocent as she seems.

Mavin: I stopped by - like the new color. It looks very unique somehow. I haven't seen this color scheme before at a blog. Then again, maybe I don't get around as much as I ought to.

Sorry. Still thinking about 408. I hate when I get out of synch like that.

Rev. Gisher: Your story was quite imaginative, and I especially enjoyed the German connection. There were quite a few chilling passages. Thanks for writing it.

yumen said...

Stephanie...ho ho, there are things I could tell you about Stephanie! I can't believe you've put a picture of her up on here; the last guy who did that met a nasty end. As far as I'm concerned, where witches are involved, stay well clear. That's all I'm saying.

Indeterminacy said...

Hi Yumen, now that's one chilling comment. Hopefully our well-meant stories will redeem us with Stephanie. Do you really know her? These photos are all found randomly via file-sharing services.

Seriously, if there are problems with using the photo, Stephanie should feel free to contact me (with reasonable proof), and I'll replace it with another photo.