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A revised version of Senescent...

I followed the suggestions and corrections of those who commented on this piece in the discussion boards. I've provided a link to both threads (the Fiction Board and the Writer's Workshop) where I posted the original (which is also in my blog) so everyone can compare the editions. Let me know what you think. Soon I will expand the piece, but not by much: Some back story and some aftermath.

Unedited Senescent in the Writer's Workshop
Unedited Senescent in the Fiction Board



Senescent
se·nes·cent [sə néss'nt] adj - aging: approaching an advanced age


The child in question sat on a stool in front of me, blonde and dressed in a frilly, pink dress. She looked around the room--always shifting her gaze--and kicked her legs. From her appearance, I would have judged her to be a healthy and mentally sound young girl. However, the young girl’s parents had made a grave claim that there was something disturbing about her behaviour. Several incidents had led them to believe she was in some way sick and in desperate need of medical attention.

I walked up to her, properly introduced myself as a doctor, and began to check her carotid pulse, but the child recoiled when I touched her neck and sneered at me, never making eye contact. I apologized and instead checked the radial pulse on her wrist. Her pulse was only slightly elevated, so I moved on to test her mobility, balance, and coordination. Each test proved the girl to be physically sound.

I shone a light inside of her ear, but when I turned her to face me so I could shine a light into her mouth she threw her arms in front of her and smacked the light from my hands. What a disobedient girl! I scolded her gently, lecturing her on good manners instead of emphasizing her misdeed. Finally I got her to open her mouth so I could inspect her throat. A healthy, pink pair of tonsils were present.

She lowered her eyes, which had been aimed at the ceiling. This is when I caught her gaze for the first time. I briefed a glance into her wet, emerald eyes, inhaled sharply, leaned forward for a deeper look, gasped aloud and jumped backwards several paces.

Her eyes were the only piece of the ruse that was not a perfect replica. Only a parent could tell for sure that the thing looking through that child’s eyes was not the little girl it appeared to be. The eyes were the eyes of a child, but the stare was one of a senescent being. When I chanced another glance into those eyes the stare shot out from the poor child’s face and went straight through my head, shoving bits of me out the back of my skull, projecting through her a clear image of Hell.

I recoiled, slamming into the dresser behind me as I turned my entire body to shield myself from the deathly gaze. My voice shook with terror I had never known could exist. “What do you want with this child?” I dared not face that stare again, it had nearly taken the spirit from me, but there was no answer. I was sure that the senescent one was aware of my discovery.

“What do you want with this child?” I stammered, unable to call forth another phrase from my petrified mind. My arms were wrapped around my chest with my hands tucked under my armpits. I hunched forward more, shielding myself from the voice I expected to answer me. It would be a sinister voice… full of the snake’s hiss and the voices of creatures that crawl. I paled with a sickly anticipation, but still I received no answer. Was she, demon in tow, still sitting on the stool? I considered looking again, hesitated for a moment, but caved into the curiosity.

The child’s face--her beautiful youth had contorted and--Oh, God! The smooth skin of her cheek had dried and cracked, bled and scabbed over in an instant, become infected and dripping in the time it had taken me to turn around. Every muscle in her face had tensed and twisted in an awful look of agony. Her mouth and nose were deformed, twisted in a horrible sneer with dog-like fangs and an upturned nose like the swine.

I flung myself against the wall and slid along its length to the corner where I crouched slightly, cowering. I had all but lost control of my movements. The girl’s demon face watched me, following me with the horrid expression that was fraying the edges of my sane mind. I couldn’t look away from the revolting image. She had paralyzed me in a hypnosis of panic and hopeless fear. When I thought for sure that I couldn’t take another second of this madness the demon child played its trump card.

It raised its arms towards me, the arms of a little girl. I had no time to realize what was happening and look away. Without warning the skin from her hands was stripped away up to her wrists, exposing the fresh flesh and a decent flow of blood. The bones of her knuckles twisted and bent, yielding to an invisible force. They broke and splintered, followed by her wrists, twisting until her forearms snapped, followed by her elbows, then her shoulders until her arms were shattered and bloody things, a twisted mess of carnage on each side of her.

I remember how it felt when my sanity cracked and proceeded to fall apart, piece by piece. It felt like a dream, or more accurately a nightmare that had the added terror of existing in what I took for reality. The reason for my actions following the traumatizing spectacle can be found in the basest of human instincts. Fear will override logic in an instant, so, though there was a door to my right, my decision to jump out of the window, in retrospect, was only an animal’s sense of survival. I fell two stories with no thought of a landing.

However, I eventually did hit the ground, as things that fall will do. I didn’t pick myself up after I landed--a hospital trip was necessary--but I could have stood up had the paralysis of fear not been so strong.

What I saw… it’s not something that leaves my mind easily, even on a bright day with the distractions of everyday life to keep me occupied. I never returned to the room on the second story, not even for my belongings. I can still see her face disfigured like a snarling dog… her arms, the most terrible things… Oh, God, will I ever be without that image? Is she still sitting on the stool, contorted and mutilated, waiting for me to return so she can pluck away the last of my mind with another vision of grisly horror? I can never go back, I can never know the answer lest it destroy me.

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Taknovrthewrld
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