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Strawberry Fields Forever 671 words (1 Viewer)

Sleepwriter

WF Veterans
My take on last month's CoF Challenge. Like the challenge, based on the firestarter.


Marie couldn’t sleep. She looked at her night stand, covered with pill bottles. Once again her insomnia proved it was stronger than any medication. She turned her television on, a young couple was talking to a real estate agent about buying a farm because they were tired of the fast pace of the city.

As they looked at different properties, Marie noticed for the first time in a really long time, she felt happy. The show got her thinking about her childhood. She had grown up in the farming belt of the Midwest, and until now she never realized how much she missed it.

The next day she cashed out her 401k and quit her job. With the economic downturn, she found a sweet deal on a fruit farm in London, Ohio.
A week after she moved in, there was a knock at her front door. She looked through the peephole. It was an elderly man, thin as a beanpole, wearing overalls and holding a weathered cowboy hat in his hands. He looked harmless enough, so she opened the door.

“May I help you?”

“No ma’am. I’m here to help you.”

“Oh, how so?”

“I noticed you hadn’t prepped the strawberry patch yet, I can help you with it, if you like.”

“I wasn’t planning on…wait a minute, who’d you say you were?”

“My apologies, I thought I’d introduced myself. I’m Irwin Jones. I own the farm down the road from you.”

“Nice to meet you Mister Jones, but as I was saying, I wasn’t planning on doing strawberries this year.”

“I see,” he said as he worked the brim of his hat in his hands.

“Is there something wrong?”

“My family has lived here five generations, and the family you bought this farm from even longer, and all that time there has always been a strawberry patch. Did they not tell you that?”

“They mentioned something about it, but there’s no money to be had for the amount of work involved.”

“It was never about profit.”

“I don’t understand. It’s too much land for personal use, and if they weren’t for sale then what were the strawberries for?”

He glanced over his shoulder as if he heard something. “I’ve said more than I should. I’ve got to go.” He turned and began walking away.

“If they’re that important, why don’t you grow them?”

He paused and lowered his head. “I’ve tried. It doesn’t work. They have to be grown here.”

“I’m sorry. I just don’t want to grow any.”

He didn’t reply, just kept walking away.

Over the next few weeks, after she went to bed, she would hear the sounds of garden tools digging in dirt. There was never anyone there when she went to look, but she could feel someone watching her. It had to be the old man, but couldn’t prove it.

She called the cops repeatedly, complaining about someone trespassing. They would come out and look around, but it was for naught, the nighttime work continued in the strawberry patch.

It wasn’t long before the berries were ready to pick. She knew he would be coming soon to pick them, but when? That’s when she remembered there was a full moon coming. The thought of catching the old codger red-handed made her smile.

It was just after midnight when she heard something moving outside. She raced from the house and rounded the corner. Standing at the edge of the garden was a large muscular beast with the head of a wolf.

Its glowing eyes, locked with hers. It let loose an unearthly growl, icing over her body as a warm liquid ran down her leg. The monster moved toward her, its hair bristled. She bolted for the door, and managed to open it when the creature jumped on her, knocking her to the floor.

Horrific screams pierced the thin walls of the farm house, but failed to disturb the night.

Hours later the front door opened to the rising sun, a bloodstained hand on the knob.
 

Bard_Daniel

Senior Member
Chilling! Nice and fluid ending that brought out the intensity of the story in full. The dialogue was also crisp and direct, something which I particularly enjoyed.

A good piece! Nice work!
 

Caragula

Senior Member
Hi,

A collection of little things impacted my enjoyment of this piece. The story seemed rushed, somehow disconnected. Without knowing whose bloodstained hand it is, it seemed odd that the woman is introduced, suffering with insomnia, has achieved a lifechanging epiphany and moved to the country, only to be savagely murdered a few paragraphs later. Starting a story on a character usually puts the reader with them. If she is actually dead, her insomnia seems entirely irrelevant, as in, it's detail that starts to flesh her out, but given her fate, seems pointless. You could begin it instead with her being awoken by the knocking on the door, and thinking how the insomnia she had back in the city was beaten by the country air etc.

If the old guy is going to be in the book as a main character but she isn't, and it was me writing it, I'd look to begin it from his perspective, seeing her answer the door, describing her to the reader, 'you look tired ma'am' etc. that might then pass for small talk trying to get on her good side before he gets frustrated with the flat refusals. You then have an arc in the dialogue itself that can introduce her lifestyle change and his trying to warm her up, only to have that sour as she refuses his request towards the end of the chat.

The beast with a wolf's head (not sure if that should actually just be called out as werewolf, because the distinction, if any, wasn't clear) just appears and that too was jarring. One day an old man is pestering her and then all of a sudden a werewolf has, what, been digging a strawberry patch? Without more to read I'm left with the question 'what's so important to a werewolf about strawberries'. Which is fascinating, now I think about it :)
 

Sleepwriter

WF Veterans
Hi,

A collection of little things impacted my enjoyment of this piece. The story seemed rushed, somehow disconnected. Without knowing whose bloodstained hand it is, it seemed odd that the woman is introduced, suffering with insomnia, has achieved a lifechanging epiphany and moved to the country, only to be savagely murdered a few paragraphs later. Starting a story on a character usually puts the reader with them. If she is actually dead, her insomnia seems entirely irrelevant, as in, it's detail that starts to flesh her out, but given her fate, seems pointless. You could begin it instead with her being awoken by the knocking on the door, and thinking how the insomnia she had back in the city was beaten by the country air etc.

If the old guy is going to be in the book as a main character but she isn't, and it was me writing it, I'd look to begin it from his perspective, seeing her answer the door, describing her to the reader, 'you look tired ma'am' etc. that might then pass for small talk trying to get on her good side before he gets frustrated with the flat refusals. You then have an arc in the dialogue itself that can introduce her lifestyle change and his trying to warm her up, only to have that sour as she refuses his request towards the end of the chat.

The beast with a wolf's head (not sure if that should actually just be called out as werewolf, because the distinction, if any, wasn't clear) just appears and that too was jarring. One day an old man is pestering her and then all of a sudden a werewolf has, what, been digging a strawberry patch? Without more to read I'm left with the question 'what's so important to a werewolf about strawberries'. Which is fascinating, now I think about it :)


Thank you for the read the feedback!

Agreed on the insomnia. I should have cut it too, since there was more before that about her going to the doctor and all, which I cut. Could have just had her waking to the TV being on and gone from there. I didn't want her to start out at the farm, but as I think about it now, Could have made that work as well.

The hand belonged to the werewolf.

You would have to read the May CoF Challenge to understand the connection between the werewolf and strawberries.
 

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