Tag Archives: visual fiction

The Lake – Visual Fiction

Taken in Gosan, Korea

Taken in Gosan, Korea

It looked so close, he felt he could almost touch it. On hot days, the water looked oh so refreshing. He could be on the shore in an hour if he wanted to.

But this was his domain, up here on the mountainside, with only the snakes, chipmunks, and pheasants as company, and food when he could catch them. There were springs where he could drink but they were small, muddy trickles, fit only for a monster like himself.

His mother’s words spun repeatedly through his mind: “You have a curse, my son. People would not accept you, if they saw you.” She had never shown him to anyone. Even his father, who was an officer in the army and was rarely home, had never known he had lived through childbirth. His mother had made him run and hide in the mountains whenever his father visited. Finally, when she had died of the fever, he had run to the mountains.

He looked down at the water from the shelter of a rock that was cutting the scorching summer wind. He could go at night, but even then he would have to cross the road and there were always cars driving back and forth, as if guarding the lake from his cursed touch.

Someday, perhaps he would risk it, if fear gave him a reprieve and unchained him even for a night. Someday.

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Forgotten Histories – Visual Fiction

taken in Namhae, Korea

taken in Namhae, Korea

It just looked like a nice place to rest.

I came across the site while I was toiling through thick undergrowth on the side of a nameless Korean mountain. There was no gravestone to identify the person buried beneath and I barely thought about it as a grave as I threw my pack down and stretched my sore muscles.

Fatigue and a soothing bed of springy grass made me drowsy and my eyes closed on their own. All I could feel was the cool firmness of the grave under my back and the warm sun on my face.

Suddenly, it was night and I was standing in a village of houses with thatched roofs. Over the low, outer wall of the nearest house, I could see the door open and a woman was holding a newborn baby. It was crying and its face shone red in the lamplight.

The scene changed and I now saw a boy standing by the street, watching Japanese soldiers march into town. The boy was now in school, learning Japanese, whispering in Korean with his friends, and being beaten for it when he was caught.

The scenes began to move faster and faster. The boy was now a man, wearing the uniform of the South. I saw his name tag: Hong Deok-Jin. I saw him guarding a harbor, sneaking off to see his family, being caught and reprimanded, then sent to a small island as punishment. I saw him leading the counterattack against North Korean boats, then being rewarded for it.

The war was now over and the man lived in a small house with his growing family, his war medal tacked to the wall of the kitchen. I saw one fishing boat sink under him; watched him work with friends, saving money for years to buy another boat. I watched as one son and a daughter died and three more got married and set grandchildren on the man’s knees. The man’s wife finally passed on and I saw the man make his way painfully to the beach each morning to look out over the water, sitting on a rock with his wrinkled hands on his knees, looking and thinking.

Finally, I saw the procession of children and grandchildren carrying his body up the mountain slope to the grave. The family was too poor for a granite gravestone, but I saw them laboriously carry stones up the slope to build the wall around the site. Each year, family members would come to clean and maintain the grave, but then they stopped coming and the trees and undergrowth began to encroach upon the protecting walls.

I woke up with a start. Several hours had passed and the air had gotten chilly. I jumped up, suddenly apologetic about my careless use of another human being’s resting place. I was far behind schedule and needed to move on, but I couldn’t go right away. First, I cut a thick piece of wood and laid it on the grave for the next person who would come across the grave. On it, I carved in English and Korean:

Here lies Hong Deok-Jin. He once lived.


Unsinkable – Visual Fiction

Taken in Namhae, Korea

Taken in Namhae, Korea

 

Robert Brouard rowed the old green boat, nicknamed the Love Boat, into the middle of the silent reservoir. The surrounding hills  seemed to smoke with ragged cloud vapor and unwillingly, he thought of the crematory giving off smoke as it transformed his beloved Sandra’s body into nothingness. All he had left of her was an urn of ashes and the boat she had built long ago.

He reached the middle of the reservoir and picking up the urn, he started dumping the ashes out into the water. He didn’t feel sad—at least no sadder than he had for the last week. It was hard to think that the grey dust had ever been a part of her. He accepted it objectively, but he felt no need to say good-bye to it. The boat had more of her spirit left in it than that grey, dusty ash.

The boat…

Sandra would always sit in the back when they went rowing together. She would smile lovingly at him and that would keep him going as he sweated and worked to row them out into the middle of the reservoir for a picnic, or to look at the stars, or just to be alone together. He thought of that first night in it, after she had finally finished and launched the thing that had taken up her spare moments for two years.

He had been so proud of her—I’ll bet I’m the only man in the world whose wife can build a boat, he’d said. It probably wasn’t true, but it made her glow with pleasure and when she was happy, he was happy. They had drunk the champagne instead of smashing it on the prow and then made love in the tippy little craft under the stars. It had been awkward and precarious but passionate, and forty years later, the memory was still electrifying.

But now…

Robert put down the urn and picked up the hatchet, prepared to chop through the bottom. “I’m going to come join you now, if that’s okay, dear,” he said. “Just you, me, and the boat.”

It wasn’t that he felt depressed. He felt none of that black cloud of despair that had sometimes afflicted him as a teenager. It just seemed natural, logical even, to go this way. He had no purpose without her; he was just a lonely old man waiting to die in order to be with his beloved again, so why wait? And he could not leave the boat to be sold off and used by others who did not know its significance and history. Memories were not for sale.

He closed his eyes and with a swift movement, struck the bottom of the boat. He chopped again and again, making a fist-sized hole while water flooded in.

It had covered his calves when the water stopped flowing in. He sat there for some time with wet shoes and socks, wondering why the boat wasn’t sinking. Wood floated, of course, but he had filled the boat with weights to make sure it sank. Still, it refused to sink, as if some of Sandra’s obstinacy had imbued the very timbers. Finally, feeling foolish and confused, he rowed slowly back to shore.

Later that evening, he used the truck winch to pull the boat onto shore and examined it to find what had caused the miracle. He pried off one of the sidewalls and found that it was filled with foam. He checked the others and every space was filled with foam: enough to keep the boat above water, even if it got a hole in it.

And he had never known. Back then, she had been a star swimmer, while he could barely do a lap. Just in case, he could imagine her saying. Just in case we spring a leak. Just in case we’re stranded.

Just in case I die first and you take the boat out alone.

“I’m going to have to fix that hole as soon as possible,” he said. And then, for the first time in that horrible, tragic, soul-crushing week, he began to cry.

 


The Lotus Ocean – Visual Fiction

lotus ocean

Morning dawned on the world of green.

The inhabitants awoke from their verdant  beds to find that the central ocean had been replenished, as it was every night.

“Dad, where does the ocean come from?” the boy asked his father as the family walked down one of the jade veins that radiated out from the center of the leaf.

“It comes from the sky,” the father said. “Every day it dries up and then is replaced during the cool of the night.” They reached the edge of the ocean, which towered above them, curving out of sight. They could see others gathering on the far side of the ocean, their forms skewed by the curved surface of the water.

The family drank, putting their mouths to the wall of water in front of them and drinking deeply. After several minutes, when all were refreshed, they began the climb back up the leaf to their home.

“Dad?” the boy asked. “What if the ocean stops being replenished?”

“Do you mean the legends, son?” the father asked. “The legends of terrible cold or burning heat? That is not likely to happen, but if it does, we will move to a different leaf. There are thousands of them, you know.

“What if it happens to all of them?”

The father only smiled and ruffled his son’s hair but the fear tightened inside him, the fear that he would admit to no one. It was the same fear that they all felt, in the private recesses of their minds if the night was long or the weather turned strange.

What if the ocean stops coming? What if extreme heat withers the leaf? What if cold freezes everything into an uninhabitable wasteland?

What if?

lotus pond


Blue Storm – Visual Fiction

For those who are new to my blog, I do a Visual Fiction flash fiction every Sunday, based around a picture of mine that I find inspiring. If you’d like to join me in this, feel free to use the picture to write your own story. Just give me the link to yours in the comments, since I’d love to read it. I write stories of all genres and moods, although this one happens to be rather dark.

Taken in Jeonju, South Korea

Taken in Jeonju, South Korea

I knew that magic had a price, but it never occurred to me that it might extend beyond the one foolish enough to try to wield it.

*

“Jules, you’re mad! Quit it!” I shouted, trying to be heard above the rising winds. Jules was standing in the circle he had drawn in the forest clearing, shaking convulsively. At the time, I thought it was some sort of ecstasy of unholy power, but now that I reflect, it looked more like a person who has grabbed onto an electric fence and has tapped into a source of power far too vast for them to handle.

I ran, just as the clouds overhead began to seethe and spread a poisonous blue hue across the sky. It moved faster than I, and by the time I returned to my apartment, it had covered the city. A rift of dazzling light appeared in it and the last thing I saw before I shut and locked my door was a rain of dark objects beginning to fall.

*

It has been two days. I have not heard from Jules, but if he is dead, he is lucky. The city is in a panic at the unearthly scourge that has overrun it. There are many names for them: imps, goblins, demons. No one knows what they are, only that they are incredibly hard, if not impossible, to kill.

I sit and cower at home now, regretting any part I played in Jules’ mad schemes. I know that if they should find me, the concrete walls of my apartment will offer me little protection. Still, I wait and pray that this storm, like all others, might eventually pass.


Slumming on the Ceiling – Visual Fiction

Taken in Daejeon, South Korea

Taken in Daejeon, South Korea

Drunk. Bum. Loser. Deadbeat.

Freddie had heard them all and much worse as he sat in his underpass and watched people go by. He had a battered cardboard box in front of him with a few coins in it. Occasionally, more would be thrown in, but not usually. If the police chased him out, he waited until they walked away and then went back.

Thursday night had started as a good night. He had been able to buy a bottle of cheap liquor and had found a new blanket in a donation box. Half the bottle was gone when he suddenly began to feel lighter. Light began to filter in through the stairwells, increasing until it became as bright as day.

This is it, he thought. The angels, the angels are coming for me at last. One too many brown bag comforts, I suppose.

Freddie rose off the floor, floating up until he hit the ceiling. His perspective shifted and he found that the ceiling was now down for him, while the floor was above him. He sat in surprise and watched his handful of coins disappear into a light fixture. He tried to get them but burned his hand. It didn’t seem like he was dead.

With a shrug, he took a swig from the bottle and laid down on the ceiling. Freddie was used to life handing him surprises. Might as well make the best of it.

~*~

This is an alternate perspective on a couple of other stories I did, called What is it? and Why it’s bad to destroy the Earth.

 


The Sundering Fog – Visual Fiction #22

This visual fiction is the second picture I’ve used of this bridge. I like the fog on it, since it gives a much different feel. Plus, the first Visual Fiction I did, The Bridge, didn’t have a story with it. This story is the beginning of a longer one I might write sometime.

Taken in Wanju, South Korea

Taken in Wanju, South Korea

The last time I saw my son Seth was when I sent him over the bridge to go to school. The first day of Grade 4. I should have gone with him all the way to school, but that’s easy to say now. He wouldn’t have wanted me to anyway; he was so independent and on that day what he really wanted to do was cross the bridge by himself. I waved good-bye and watched as he disappeared into the fog.

I started my shift at the garage. From where I worked I could see across the river to the island where half the town was located, including the school. The fog usually burned off by about ten but that day it remaining like a blanket on the river.

About 11:00, there was a sudden crash; not an explosion, but a rending, tearing sound, as loud as a jet engine. Everyone ran outside, looking here and there and trying to figure out what had happened, until Randall Haskins tried to drive over to the pharmacy, across the bridge. I heard the sound of screeching tires and then Randall’s hysterical voice shouting, “The bridge! The bridge is gone.”

It wasn’t gone, but there was a large hole ripped from the center span of it, at least fifty feet wide. No one could see any reason for it, nor was there any concrete or rubble in the water below. The police chief took a couple of men and motored across in a boat to check on things on the other side.

They never came back. They didn’t even radio in after they went onshore. Another boat went over and the same thing happened. In total, seven boats went to the island that day and none of them were ever seen again. The police cordoned off the shore on both sides of the river all around the island and prevented anyone else from trying to go over there.

The fog cleared up the next day and we all saw the island sitting there in the river. Not a single person was visible all that day. The next day, the national guard sent four boats of armed soldiers across. We watched them with binoculars as they searched the streets. They reported back that no one was there, but we noticed as we watched that as they went in and out of the buildings, their number slowly decreased. Sometimes men would go into a building and not come out again. The men on shore tried to warn them, but they couldn’t get through and eventually the soldiers all went into buildings and disappeared.

Now the island just sits there, off limits to everyone. I stare obsessively at it whenever I can, trying to catch any glimpse of movement, trying to see my Seth. I can’t help it. I almost welcome the foggy days, when the misty white curtain obscures my view and numbs my pain and nagging worry, at least for a little while.


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