April 17, 2008

PFC #3: "The Spirit Of Loa"

After a bit of a garbage delay and some serious writer's block, I am finally able to present a story for this months Picture Fiction Challenge. I had to bang my head several times against the surface of my desk to shake out a few words today, hehe.

Anyway - as you probably have noticed, I've been keeping the links up to date on the sidebar here, as well as in the archives - so I hope you all got around to read some good stories. I've been longing to do the same myself, but as it is nearing midnight here, I might have to save a couple of them for tomorrow.

I might just as well tell you this before I present my story. The next PFC challenge will be announced on Monday. I've decided to present the next challenge quickly after the last one - that way we get a little more time to write. And - if you're anything like me - the inspiration level is higher right after you have posted and read these things, so maybe that'll help us all get a good jump.

Well, enough of the chit chat - you have plenty of reading ahead of you as it is!

Here is my story:

********** THE SPIRIT OF LOA **********

She weaseled her way down the streets in the Harbor District area, head down and a firm grip on her guitar case. She hurried as fast as she could walk, without running. She avoided making eye contact with anyone on the street. Dressed in a green mini-skirt and a red sleeveless top, her masculine features made her look like some crazed cross-dresser. Anywhere else in town she would draw attention simply by the way she looked. Not down here in the Harbor District. Down here is where all the low lives roamed the streets - the hookers, the tricks, the homeless, the druggies and their dealers. Every now and then she would lift her gaze to check out the surroundings and try to localize where she was, and where she needed to go.

She had to be close now.

An hour earlier she had left the hotel behind. The other girls were asleep, and she had gone up, grabbed her guitar and then she ran down the hall, down the stairs – too nervous to wait for the elevator – and through the lobby and out onto the streets. She was leaving her old life behind. She was leaving the band, the girls and the life she sold her soul to get.

Growing up had been tough. She fought, she drank, fucked around and did drugs and alcohol. Her life was destined to be a short one, likely raped, murdered and left dying in the gutter of some deserted alleyway. She contemplated suicide often, but she loved her guitar. Playing her music made her feel good – playing her music is what would keep her sane and even alive. Her music was angry. She let everything out of her when she plugged the electric guitar into the amplifier.

She wanted stardom. She wanted the world at her feet as she played them her music.

That’s what Anabel had promised her. That’s what Anabel gave to her. And, now she was running away from it all, fearing for her life.

Maxime Steel stopped for a second to catch her breath. She felt her heart pounding in her chest – even in her ears as she leaned against a wall. She looked up, trying to figure out where she was. She didn’t know this city at all – this was the first time she’d ever been here, but this place could provide her salvation. If the stories she heard were true, there was a small voodoo shop in one of the back alleys down here. The magician who ran the place was well known among practitioners of Voodoo. Pierre-Jean Brassard was a master magician, and only he would have the powers to save her from her fate.

Her head snapped to her side as she heard a chirping sound. Her eyes fell on a yellow-rumped warbler as it landed in a small planted tree on the sidewalk. In its mouth was a worm, squirming helplessly for a second, before the beautiful bird cocked its head back and seemed to swallow it whole. Maxime watched in fascination. Spring was in the air – she’d seen a bird just like it outside the window of her hotel room as she dressed up in a hurry and grabbed the guitar case. She had to move on, before someone noticed her guitar, and wanted to steal it from her.

The guitar she could live without. It was the thing that was lying next to it in inside the guitar case she needed to protect. The thing Anabel had given to her - the thing which held her soul captive. The Loa Doll.

Anabel showed up that one day when Maxime and her band “Butch Bitches” were looking for a new singer. The Butch Bitches were just an obscure garage punk band of girls looking to blow off some steam. Occasionally they would play in some backstreet joint where people were generally so blacked out or stoned that they couldn’t make sense of any kind of music, but Maxime always wanted the band to be her salvation. She wanted to play in front of thousands of adoring fans, screaming her name and going crazy as she ripped a vicious solo. But, she was never a good enough guitar player to go beyond an angry, monotonous riff from start to finish of a song.

Anabel was a raw singer. Perfect for the band, and she said she could make the Butch Bitches a raving success. Maxime wanted it – the other girls did too. A ticket out of poverty was the lure.

But, there was a price to pay.

“Sell your soul to Loa”, she had told her.

“Loa?”, Maxime had asked her, thinking she would do anything for fame.

“Loa is a powerful Voodoo spirit. If we give our souls to Loa, Loa will give us fame and fortune”.

So, Anabel had given her the Loa Doll, and Maxime had spilled her blood onto it. She will never forget that day, as she could feel her soul being drained from her body. She felt as if she was high on some incredibly powerful drug, and she felt invincible. From then on she had never looked back. From then on the road to stardom lay in front of her, and the Butch Bitches were now playing in front of crowds of 20-30 thousand fans.

But, there was a price to pay, and as the crowds grew larger the price went up. Loa wanted blood, sacrificial blood. And to honor their God, the Butch Bitches would take unsuspecting fans to a “party” after the show, where they killed them ceremoniously and sacrificed their blood to Loa. It had always struck Maxime as fascinating how easily the fans would let themselves be murdered, but they too – the fans – were under the powerful spell of Loa. Their music drew them in, captivated them and made them want to die for him.

But, Maxime wanted out.

The yellow-rumped warbler took flight and Maxime watched as it flew around the corner into a narrow alley.

Down there, she thought. That’s where it is.

She started walking again. Faster than before, eager to look down that street. She couldn’t explain it, but she just new that the Brassard Laundr-O-Mat would be down there, and behind the laundry machines there would be a small draped passage leading to a flight of stairs to the second floor. That was where the voodoo shop was.

Maxime rounded the corner, and saw what she had been hoping to see. The place looked run down and for a second she thought it may have closed. Forever. That would be just her luck. She could not turn back now. Anabel would know by know that she had eloped, and the punishment for that would be severe. Anabel would evoke Loa’s rage upon her, and her fate would be far worse than death alone.

Unable to hold her composure any longer, Maxime started running down the street. As she stopped just outside the door, she noticed the yellow-rumped warbler sitting on top of a fire hydrant… as if it were looking at her.

She walked inside. No one seemed to be there. All the machines stood still and empty. The smell of incense was powerful, and comforting. The incense assured her that she was in the right place.

Behind a large clothes dryer, she noticed the small passage, covered only with a colorful beaded drape. She went through it and ran up the stairs – praying that Pierre-Jean would be there.

She came upstairs and saw a jungle of paraphernalia. Crows feet, dried lizards and chicken heads. All sorts of dolls, incense and jars full of things she didn’t even want to know what they were. But, no sign of another human being.

She looked at the many different voodoo dolls, and was relieved that she didn’t see one that resembled her own. The Loa Doll was much too powerful, and if Pierre-Jean would have them in the store, Maxime would be worried that he too, like Anabel, belonged to Loa. Loa was an evil spirit.

“Lady, you look like you was run over by a freight train”.

She spun around, surprised at the voice behind her. She came face to face with a large Haitian man, tattooed and pierced like he added one each day to his face… for the past 20 years. He had dreadlocks, and colored beads – making him look like a crazed punked out rasta man. His eyes penetrated her very soul… had she had one.

“Brassard?”, she asked. “Are you Pierre-Jean Brassard”.

“You are a lady of question. You have a purpose”, he motions to an old arm chair. “Let us sit.”

Maxime didn’t want to sit. She needed to know she was speaking to the right man… her life depended on it.

“I asked you a fucking question. Are you Brassard?”

That dead stare of his wouldn’t leave her eyes, and she was getting uncomfortable with it.

“What troubles you, lady? And for what do you seek the guidance of the spirits?”

“I’m not talking to anyone but Pierre-Jean”, Maxime says and sits down in the arm chair. She found she was too exhausted to stand up any more.

“Then speak, troubled lady”. His eyes never leaving hers, penetrating deep. Was he looking for her soul? You keep looking fucker, she thought. You’re not going to find it in there. My soul is trapped in a fucking doll in my fucking guitar case.

As if he could read her mind, Pierre-Jean’s gaze wandered to her guitar case. Then back to her eyes.

“Well, you better fucking be Brassard then. I’m in some deep shit, and I hear you can help me.”

He sits down in front of her, in an identical arm chair facing the one she is sitting in. For a second his gaze shifts back to her guitar case. She gets the feeling he is a little nervous after all – despite his unfaltering eyes.

“Show me”, he says.

“Shit man…”, she begins. “I don’t know where the hell to start. It is bad… it is really fucking bad, and-“, she is interrupted.

“Lady, I don’t want to hear. I want to see. Show me what is in that guitar case”.

“Maybe I need to explain…”, she could almost feel his eyes penetrating her – forcing her to stop talking. “Ok. Fine.”

She picks up the guitar case and opens it up. Carefully holding the guitar up, so that she can reach into the small compartment where the Loa Doll is hidden. As she touches it, she feels a razor sharp pain shooting through her entire body. The doll is small, brown with piercing black eyes. It’s mouth is a gaping wound of blood red with a line of sharp teeth on the top and bottom.

She takes it out and holds it out to him.

His face paled instantly, and she could hear his breath slowing down – almost ceasing completely. But, his eyes never falter.

“Loa…”, he whispers.

“Yes!”, she almost shouts. “It’s a fucking Loa Doll, and I want my fucking soul back!”

“Silence!”, he screams at her, and stands up quickly. “Do not curse in the presence of a Loa Doll! You do not want to anger it, Lady”

“Can you help me?”, she gets up herself. Walking toward him, with the doll held out in front of her. He takes a step back.

“Maybe…”, he says. “Loa is a powerful spirit. Lady put the doll back where it belongs”

“I don’t want it”, she says. “I want you to bring my spirit back to me and get rid of this fucking doll”.

“Put it back!”, he screams at her. “And, stop with the cursing! I will try to help, but I can’t help you here. You can only help yourself, and I will give you what you need. Then you leave here, lady. Far from here, and you help yourself”

Desperate, and defeated, Maxime puts the doll back in the guitar case. Pierre-Jean watches intently as she does so.

“Good”, he says. “I don’t want Loa to see me”. Then he turns and starts going through a lot of stuff in the store. He is putting together some things in a small wooden box, and after a short while he returns and holds out the box to her. She puts her hands on it, and as she does, Jean-Pierre clamps both his hands onto hers and squeezer her hands tight.

“Take this, lady. Go far away - out of this city. Only then must you open this box. Only then must you see what is inside, or your soul will be lost forever.”

Those eyes of his look into hers so powerfully that she can barely breathe.

“Thank You”, she says for the first time in her life. “How much do I owe you?”

“You owe me only one thing, lady. Do not open the box until you are out of the city.” He lets go of her hands. “Now, go!”

She takes her guitar case and the small wooden box, and hurries down the stairs. As she exits the Laundr-O-Mat she notices the warbler still waiting for her on the fire hydrant. As soon as she notices it, it takes flight again. She watches as it flutters down the alley, and lands on top of a car.

Maxime runs after it. The bird was showing the way – she knew that now. The bird was showing her the way to freedom. She had stolen many a car in her youth, and she knew she could still do it. She ran up to the drivers side door and crashed the windshield with her elbow. Pain shot up through her arm as blood started pouring out of the wound. It was a small price to pay for freedom.

She unlocked the door and hopped inside, quickly breaking off the panel underneath the steering wheel, and expertly – as if it was only yesterday – wired it started. The bird suddenly took flight again and disappeared into the night.

“Thank you little birdie”, she said after it and then she drove.

She drove fast, but careful. She didn’t want to be stopped by the police now. Not when she was so close. She got on the highway and left the city behind. Soon after the city lights were behind her, she took an exit and went down a small road headed towards the mountains.

When she was certain that she was far from civilization, and no cars would be passing through, she pulled over to the side of the road, and stopped the car. She grabbed the small wooden box Pierre-Jean had given her and stepped out of the car. Her heart was pounding heavily in her chest. Was this finally it? Was this the end of the Hell she’d been going through for all those years?

No more sacrifices. No more blood spilled. No more death on her conscious. No more Anabel and the girls of Butch Bitches. Only freedom!

She heard something rustling the leaves of the trees to her side, and turned toward the sound – half expecting to see what she did see.

The yellow-rump. It landed on some branches, and sat there looking at her.

“You are my savior, little birdie”. She opened the small wooden box in her hands. Inside was a small black voodoo doll. She didn’t like the look of it, as when she looked at it, it sent shivers down her spine. Next to it was a tiny note, neatly folded.

She took the note out, and unfolded it. Then she looked over to her little savior bird.

“Lets get my soul back, huh? Fuck Loa!”. The bird chirps, as if in agreement. That’s what she thought. “Yeah…”, then she read the note:

DO NOT BETRAY THE SPIRIT OF LOA

“What?”, she read it again in disbelief. “You fucking asshole!”. She crumples the note in her fist and throws it away, as tears begin streaming down her face. She looks back at the bird. “Do you fucking believe that?”

The warbler takes flight again. Right towards her. It came at her so fast she never had the chance to start defending herself as it attacked her face. Pecking at her eyeballs, and flapping its wings. Maxime tried to run, but stumbled and fell to the ground. The bird continued to peck at her eyes, her nose and her ears. She screamed and flailed her arms around.

She struck the bird with the palm of her hand, sending it to the ground. Maxime quickly got to her knees. She was only able to see with one eye – the other one was punctured and she could feel a gooey mass pumping out of it. The pain was unbearable.

It was only now that Maxime remembered what Anabel had told her that night.

“If you ever betray the spirit of Loa, she will come after you and tear you apart. You can not escape from her wrath.”

“Has anyone ever seen this Loa spirit?”, she had asked.

“In our back yards. In the trees. Loa is a beautiful bird”

Maxime had never pictured Loa as a yellow-rumped warbler, though.

The bird was flying again. It didn’t attack. Instead, it landed on the hood of the car, next to the wooden box which still lay open on top of it.

“Alright little birdie”, she says. “Attack me again, and I’m going to fucking tear you apart. You don’t scare me!”

Then, in amazement, she watches the bird dip its head into the wooden box. She feels a burning pain in her left side, as if her entire rib cage was suddenly crushed by an unseen force. She screams in pain and fear. At the same time, her eyes register the small bird flying up to the trees again. It lands on the same branch Maxime first saw it on. In its beak, she notices the voodoo doll Jean-Pierre had put inside the small wooden box. The bird lays it down in front of it. The little black piercing eyes looking at Maxime as if they were hiding an evil smile.

“No”, Maxime said. “No, please, no…”

The little black doll was her. She suddenly realized this. Whatever happens to the doll would happen to her. That’s why her rib cage shattered as the bird took it in its beak.

The bird chirped a happy song, while Maxime begged for her life, and then it tore into one of the arms of the doll – ripping it lose.

So far away from civilization that night… no one would hear Maxime’s screams in the night.

********** THE END **********

Well, that's my story this month. And, as I've said I would always do - here are my little notes that I write on each picture before I start writing - just so you can follow my thought process... for whatever that's worth:

**********

One disturbed main character this month. Now, there's been controversy regarding the sex of this (human) being, but I clearly see a pair of boobies in the chest area, so I am going to go with this being a woman. Those arms... that face, though - there is nothing feminine about that... *shrugs* One butch hard rockin' bitch!

Time to think outside the box... snowy mountains, long winding road, desolate - driving a car. I am starting to think that my hard rocking butch bitch (knowing the story takes place in a city setting) wants to just get away from it all. Maybe she's hit rock bottom, and is looking for an escape?

City lights, night time. Big city, harbor district type area. I'm thinking this is not a nice part of town. Our butch bitch has one final thing she needs to take care of here in the crowded (and dangerous) streets of the city. One final obstacle to overcome before she can escape the city and head for freedom!

This little strange thing will be that obstacle. If this were a movie, that little funny looking doll would not be suitable for use, but I'm hopeful I can describe that doll into something a little more creepy... a voodoo doll of sorts (you didn't think I wasn't going to go all horror on you did you?). That voodoo doll is she - it is what is keeping her in the crazy punk rockin' band. As long as this doll is with her, she will never be able to escape. Getting rid of the doll has its price though!

A bird. More specifically a yellow-rumped warbler. Hmmm... I believe this bird will be following her around. We'll see where that takes us? She notices it, thinking of freedom... but is that what the bird really represents?

**********

Ok... so now I'm off to read your stories. I'm sure there will be a number of really good ones out there this time - I can feel it!

And, don't forget to pop in on Monday and check out the pictures for Picture Fiction Challenge #4!

26 comments:

Single In The City said...

UMMMM, You took those pictures and made a terrific story of them! I cannot say that I am surprised at all. I really got into it when she was told to take it and not open it until she was alone and away from everyone.. That is where I began to really get drawn in.

You did a wonderful, amazing job!!!

Smooches,
Single... And sleep well tonight honey!

Raven said...

Wow! Of course I wanted a happy ending (can't help myself), but this was better. Really well done. You had me hooked from start to finish. Awesome good job!

Thanks for more time next month. Looking forward with dread and enthusiasm to your next set of photos.

R.E.H. said...

Single In The City: Glad you liked the story. I was seriously worried about how this one would be recieved...

You did a great job of yours too! So glad you decided to play.

And from that point on, where she left the voodoo shop was pretty much when I stopped beating myself over the head, and just let my fingers do the walking to finish the story... I find it is always better to let things run their natural course when writing, rather than trying to force it out ;)

Raven: Thanks. There wasn't any room for a happy ending in this one ;) I've been so nice in my previous PFC stories... I had to unleash a little evil this time.

Yeah, I thought it would be good to have more time, and hopefully I'll learn from making the same mistake two months (well, all three really) in a row and get my story written in time.

Jo said...

Jeepers, that was creepy. Great story! In the beginning I suspected the bird would tattle, but then you did your voodoo & I thought it was friendly. The ending scene was fantastic...the note was a stunner.

Dark suits you, Darlin' :)

Jay said...

Yeah, I was going back and forth as to whether or not the bird was good or bad. It was bad. LOL

Great story dude. Really had me hooked.

odd facts said...

I'm feeling surreal now.

Jeff B said...

Very Alfred Hitchcock like. You did an awesome job on this. It kept me on the edge of my seat and I found myself reading faster as the story developed. Always a good indication of a well written suspence piece.

Freakazojd said...

That was great! I wish I had more time to participate in this (and to go around and read everyone's stories), but it's fun to read yours. I liked the dark, too. :)

R.E.H. said...

Jo: Thank You. Dark is where I feel the most comfortable when writing. It is how most of my fiction has always been.

Jay: Thanks. Yeah, that was one bad bird ;) I was a little worried to make a sweet little warbler into such an evil being.

Odd Facts: I guess the story was a little surreal ;)

Jeff B: Wow! Any comparison to the great Hitchcock is some serious praise - thank you! Glad I could keep you on the edge of your seat.

Freakazojd: If ever you do find the time to participate, I would sure look forward to reading it. Happy to hear you enjoyed the read.

Farmer*swife said...

[Had to close my eyes through the comments] I'm printing it and taking it with me for a good read while I take my all time fav. MIL to her hair appt. (She's still having difficulty from the horsie thing and can't drive).

I was so hoping this would be here for me to take with me this morning!!!!

I agree. The mental fluids are always flowing out of delight and adrenaline right after the PFC. I like the idea of throwing the next set out there back to back!!

BBL to post my adorations for your story! :)

Aunt Jackie said...

Man your story is really great too! I read Jay's, and I am really interested in trying this out soon... I'll have to go back and read the rules and stuff in detail.

Looks fun, and you guys really write some cool stories!

Aunt Jackie said...

Read it over again, and still got engrossed! Cool!

Knight said...

I loved the twist on making Domo a little soul capturing doll and when the bird attacked her... that was fantastic. Where you took this story was so out of the box and exciting. Great work! Really impressive!

tt said...

Holy shit!!! That took a turn I wasn't expecting..at all. Fabulous read. Funny thing.....in my minds eye the whole thing was in black and white untill......the yellow bird showed up. the introduction of color...what a pop for my mind. I had just read about Yellow on Forks off the Moment's blog...guess it was still there. Wow....never saw the ending coming either. You had me from the start.
yay for REh!!!!!!!!! More please.
I wish I could read some sequeals from the PFC"s. Awesome!

Sparkling Red said...

I love the characters you create. They're powerful! It's almost like a graphic novel, without the illustrations, but I can imagine the illustrations.

R.E.H. said...

Farmer*s Wife: Good. Now you got something to read while she gets her hair done ;)

Aunt Jackie (x2): Glad you liked it - and read it twice!

I hope you do decide to take part in this - it would be fun!

Knight: I kind of immediately thought voodoo when I saw that pic the first time... but of course, that's how my brain works ;)

Glad you liked it!

TT: That's interesting - how you read it in B/W until the end. Not what I was thinking myself, but it's always interesting to hear how others percieve what they read.

Didn't see that ending coming, huh? I had it pretty much in mind the whole time ;)

Sparkling Red: Thanks. I do try to create interesting characters - it is one of those things, for me, that can make or break a story. Glad you liked them/it.

Tookie Tail said...

*Whew* You had me waiting on bated breath. What an incredible story! You did a fantastic job with this, R.E.H.!
~Jan

Farmer*swife said...

Good read. Really good use of the zombie doll thingie as a voo-doo doll. Sometimes I have trouble seing stuff I don't like "out of what it is."

I was really liking the little bird, leading her and helping her find her freedom, her soul.

Guess, I should have known when the Quija guy told her to take it far away and open it all alone.

I'll never trust a Warbler again...especially the "yellow" ones!

Happy PFC and Happy, Happy Friday!!

Naughty Lakota said...

your writing impresses the shit outa me.

R.E.H. said...

Tookie Tail: Thank You, glad you enjoyed it!

Farmer*s Wife: I'm sorry to have put warblers in a bad light for you ;) They are pretty birds, you know - really, they are! ;)

Glad you enjoyed it. The bird really became more significant than I expected at first, though I was thinking early that it might be the spirit of Loa itself.

Naughty Lakota: I'm pleased to impress you. I wonder what else I could do to impress? ;)

Leighann said...

Your dark side makes me tingle *giggle*

That was fantastic, I was NOT expecting that note! That bastard!

R.E.H. said...

Leighann: Always happy to make you tingle ;)

Y'all should've known, though - not to mess with Loa!

Dianne said...

Wow!! Just Wow!!

My mind was racing as I read this - good bird/bad bird - then I thought the bird might be Anabel watching and waiting to kill Maxime Steel (great name!) and the Laundr O Mat dude (great image, that laundry place).

this was just fucking fantastic.

Hope Loa doesn't hear me curse.

R.E.H. said...

Dianne: Glad you liked the story! And, the name (I was going to use her last name more to "pound" that name into the readers, but kind of forgot it). The Laundr-O-Mat thing was more or less stolen... wasn't it in Skeleton Key where there was some voodoo type shop in a laundrymat? I saw it somewhere...

Jill said...

I really do like this one! I never read a creepy story by you! And I do like creepy stuff.

R.E.H. said...

Jill: Glad you hear you like it creepy ;) Hopefully I'll be able to write some more horror stories for y'all!