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a will-of-the-wisps short story


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29 replies to this topic

#16    snuffypuffer

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Posted 07 October 2004 - 05:58 PM

Much swell and grooviness. thumbsup.gif

Nothing to see here.

#17    Kryso

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Posted 09 October 2004 - 12:29 PM

An amazingly original and easy to read story; this pulls the reader in.

And with reference to your question about originality. Almost everything has already been done in one form or another and we have to learn to put new twists and turns in and make it original, which you have done. Even S King explains it like being in the center of a room. Every book you write takes you one step closer to the wall, and eventually you have to turn around and head back into the center.

But as Ive already said, your book is fresh and invigorating. And its a good point about installing it in chunks, because when people see a long stretch of words they go numb. They possibly read a few paragraphs then lose interest. Which no one does with yours.

I look forward to reading more.



#18    man_in_mudboots

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Posted 09 October 2004 - 11:29 PM

thanks, folks! thanks for taking the time to read it and comment, especially. papa cant read hardly at all, and maman loves reading, but she isnt much of a commenter. you folks have helped me in the best way you could have.
QUOTE
... You do have this story backed up on paper or disk right?

yes, on microsoft word, on three forums, in a stack in my desk, and where ever stories go when you save them on your hard drive. thanks for the reminder, though!

Edited by man_in_mudboots, 09 October 2004 - 11:37 PM.


#19    man_in_mudboots

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Posted 09 October 2004 - 11:35 PM

especially such nice comments, too! youre almost past the booring part, folks....

Benedict Returns to Louisiana

Benedict’s Parents had completely given up hope in him having any sort of a future, and so when he collected his things and left, they had no false optimism that perhaps he would find some interest along the way and chose a single career.  Not surprisingly, he wandered back to Louisiana, back to that same town that he had lived in as a boy.  He found that Father Etienne had died, and the priest that had replaced him was a dull character who had had a stroke which made it impossible for him to talk without having the left side of his face twitch.  This new priest didn’t approve of such foolishness as keeping record of the best willow-wisp sightings as father Etienne had.  Nevertheless, Benedict went to mass every day.  Many of the people remembered him from when he had lived there as a boy.  
Benedict was now completely exhausted waiting for his chance, but still he waited for it.  He moved into an uninhabited shotgun house deep in the swamps, where he could go days without seeing anybody at all.  He simplified and simplified his life until he was living on nothing but necessities.  Only then did he have some peace; he was no longer confronted with the paralyzing barrage of possibilities, only the most very fundamental things; he, in essence, filtered out all of the potential chances but his one great chance.  
Only in one matter did Benedict depart from the absolute basics, and that was in his maid.  His parents had always had maids, and he found that he didn’t know how to function without a maid to do the things that they had always done.  The maid he hired, Marie, was a Mexican girl whose parents had worked on some large plantation, and she was helping her siblings support them in their old age.  Marie would usually come in the morning and leave shortly before lunch, but was open to come any time Benedict’s eccentric schedule allotted.  Benedict, though he tried to not show it, despised Marie. She, he thought, is a person who has utterly missed her chance in life.  Such a head on her shoulders, had Marie, but look how she wasted it; washing his clothes and cooking his meals.  He didn’t think he had ever met a more pathetic human, or one that had squandered so terribly the gifts and chances God had given her.
Benedict actually fit in in the little town very nicely. His partial training proved sufficient in most of the cases of sickness in man or beast that were brought to him.  He became, rather speedily, the doctor of the area, fixing any of the people that came to him that couldn’t fix them selves, and a good number of the animals too.  
Willow-wisps were abundant around Benedict’s house. Marie refused to come on nights when they were active, following Father Etienne’s belief that they were demons, no matter how Benedict tried to explain to her the truth of the matter. He was certain that they were, in fact, balls of fire caused by gasses in rotting organic material exploding out of the ground and igniting. As the breeze blew the gasses around, they stayed on fire, so they weren’t moving on their own.  The effect of changing colors was created by a different gas replacing the previous sort, making the flames burn a different hue.  How or why they caught fire was beyond Benedict’s reasoning, but he knew it was not demons or ghosts, or any of that other superstitious mumbo-jumbo.  
Benedict was almost literally bored to tears with this life style, so his mind grabbed hold of the first thing in its environment that could prove interesting and refused to let go: the willow-wisps. He discovered that his childhood fascination with the lights had been lying dormant, waiting to be re-born.  And obsession is bound to develop in a mind as prone to it as Benedict’s was.



#20    Daughter of the Nine Moons

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Posted 10 October 2004 - 07:36 AM

Very nice M& M...keep posting.

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#21    Arsenik

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Posted 10 October 2004 - 10:43 AM

hey m&m, wanna help me out? participate in my little write-a-thon. continue writing on my emotional stories thread please. grin2.gif

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#22    man_in_mudboots

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Posted 10 October 2004 - 01:52 PM

im looking at it right now!

Benedict’s Resolution

Benedict at last resolved to solve the mystery of the willow-wisps.  He told nobody of his goal.  He knew that to tell of it would have himself bombarded by an onslaught of different stories of ‘men going insane over the willow-wisps, going after them, and never being seen or heard from again’ from the men of the town, and constant warnings that ‘demons were not to be messed with’ from Marie, since she followed Father Etienne’s belief that they were devils, sent from hell to cause men to miss their chances.  But not a single one of these tall tales or fiery warnings could have changes his decision to go one night and see them up close.  
He thought well in advance of all the possible problems that he could see himself having the misfortune to encounter on this safari; getting lost, needing a drink of water (the swamp water was putrid and stagnated, and completely un-drinkable for someone who had not been raised on it), getting injured, and so on.  He had been immersed in the culture of survival that is the backbone of all cultures; he knew what needed doing.  He only needed the right time to do it.
The seemingly perfect night came.  The moon was waning, there were just a few wispy clouds in the dark sky, and the willow-wisps were out in abundance.  Benedict was putting everything he needed in a fringed leather Indian pouch; he had long had all the items he needed gathered in the small iron-bound chest beside his bed, except for the water and food, of course, which he would have to wait until the very night to arrange; when he got a frantic nock on the door.  The man at the door was obviously on the verge of hysteria.  He somehow managed to relate to Benedict that one of the team pulling his stagecoach had stumbled, fallen, and managed to tip the whole coach over with it, and that the two men riding inside must have had their heads slammed against something inside the coach, the walls or maybe each other, with great force, because both were now unconscious, one bleeding profusely from a wound on his head and breathing very faintly.  Benedict was ready to leave, though, ready then.  He gave the man directions to another house - Marie’s - he thought she would be able to take sufficient care of the wounded men that they would still be alive by the time Benedict himself could get there, after, of course, he was finished with the willow-wisps in the swamps.  The coachman, because he was in such a panic, wasn’t in much of a state to ask why or how far away the house was, or any other details.  As Benedict finished packing (the man had interrupted him right in the middle), he hoped Marie would manage.  He would hate to have the worse-off man be his first patient to die.  Then he plunged himself into the swamps, noting his compass and heading in the direction of the most lights.
Benedict followed the lights as they moved (they seemed to progress together in mostly the same direction), reasoning that was because the breeze was blowing all the flaming plumes of gas in the same direction.  For almost two hours he followed the wisps of light, never getting within an acre of one, until he got to a glade.  It should be noted that, in the swampy areas of southern Louisiana, the word ‘glade’ had a different meaning than else-where; the meaning being an area of slightly higher, un-swampy land. There, in that glade, Benedict saw the willow-wisps gather, floating, as was the case, into the glade a few at a time, and, then, stop right where they were all at once.  Benedict, as utterly riveted on the eerie scene as he was, thought to himself that the breeze moving the wisps must have failed.  Screwing himself up, he walked on trembling legs to the center of the glade.  He walked past several wisps and found them to be exactly what he had thought; balls of flaming gas, not demons or ghosts or voodoo spirits.  He got close enough to touch them, even, had he been able to touch them without being burned.  The whole glade was hot with the willow-wisp’s fire.  He got to the center of the glade, sat down on a stump that just happened to be there, and watched the wisps in spell-bound amazement.  So, he thought, that they were balls of flaming gases?  So had he been expecting anything more?  He hardly thought he could call flaming balls of gas erupting from swampy ground ‘mundane’, but so, they were rather mundane in comparison to demons or ghosts or voodoo spirits.  So would a less mundane conclusion to the mystery have made it any more fascinating?
The flames, as they were, had a truly hypnotizing effect.  If Benedict just looked in their center, he found he couldn’t make himself look away.  His eyes were locked on their burning, flickering light.  And, as tired eyes and over-worked minds do, Benedict began to see things.  There, that dark shape, it looked like a hunch-backed human figure, holding the flaming ball like a lantern.  There, that flame looked to take the shape of some four-legged beast.  That flame there, did it not, for a second, possess lips that spoke to him?  
Benedict sat on that log until sunrise, and not a single thought strayed through his mind other than thoughts of willow-wisps.




#23    man_in_mudboots

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Posted 11 October 2004 - 12:03 AM

The Man in the Stagecoach

Only after the sun rose and the willow-wisps disappeared, and Benedict managed to make himself get off the stump and start for his home, did he remember the two injured men in the stagecoach that he had sent to Marie that needed his help.  He was going along the road, which he had came to from the swamps, and saw, ahead, a gathering of people around a large object half in the ditch, and the events of the previous evening returned to him.  The object was the stagecoach, and the people were attempting to right it; turn it over onto its wheels.  He resisted the urge to watch, remembering the two men needed his medical help, but as he passed by something caught his eye.  It was a medium-sized trunk, which must have burst open falling out of the coach as it tipped over.  Benedict removed some of the crumpled newspaper protecting the contents of the trunk to find dozens of glass vials, a Bunsen burner, Petri dishes, slides, a microscope, and hosts of little jars filled with powders and jellies and foul-colored liquids.  Right above the lock was a brass plate engraved with the name ‘A. Trahan’.  Trahan….A. Trahan….the name was familiar to Benedict. He rushed as well as one can rush in a road of calf-deep mud to the tiny, cramped, inadequate shack that Marie and her over-sized family lived in.
When Benedict burst in the door, he found Marie there, with two men; the one that owned the coach and had knocked on his door, and one other man, who identified himself as Eustace, the passenger that had been knocked unconscious.  Benedict demanded to know who was A. Trahan. Eustace said that it was the one seriously injured man that was breathing so faintly the day before. He had died during the night.  Benedict said, “Yes, yes, man, but the A, what did it stand for?” Eustace said. “Ambrose!” “Ambrose Trahan….Ambrose Trahan….where do I know that name from?!?!” Benedict half begged, half screamed.  Eustace, in way of explanation said, “Ambrose Trahan was a brilliant man!  I am not surprised that you, a doctor, have heard of him.  Ambrose was,
-no, I shant say ‘was’, I’ll say is- he is a pioneer in the field of vaccine research.  We, I was his assistant, we were going to Houston, to……demonstrate to the hospitals the vaccine he had newly invented…..he took notes, detailed notes, but God only knows how many people will die in the time it takes for another vaccine specialist to understand the nuances of his methods.”  Eustace watched as a this man Benedict underwent a truly great transformation; his face turned ghostly pale, his eyes widened, his mouth fell open, his shoulders dropped, and his hands trembled.  

Adeline


Adeline wouldn’t have recognized Benedict had it not been for the look in his eyes. He had suddenly appeared in her hometown in Carolina about a month ago; or rather, not Benedict, but a man that could only be an imposter, a man that looked thirty years older than the Benedict she had known, a man with hunched shoulders and a gaunt face who had withered away to a skeleton with skin.  She had seen him seven times, every time through a window in a bar.  He was sitting there on the stool, hunched over his drink to an almost comical degree, murmuring something to himself.  He had not seen her any of those times, from the blank look on his face he hadn’t seen anything but his glass, and she had been screwing herself up to go talk to him.  She was thirty-six now, and still not married; if she had to have a man, the Benedict she had known would have been the one. Now, though, this couldn’t be the same man.  So the eighth time she saw him, in the bar in town again, she walked in fast and went strait to him, before she could think about anything otherwise and before her courage could fail her. She walked up to him, said his name, and waited for him to turn around to look at her. He did only after she said his name again a second time, and even then it seemed as if he hadn’t really heard her.  He looked at her with clouded, glazed eyes and a uncaring, distant look that Adeline found alarming, even disturbing.   He looked at her without seeing her and said, more to himself than to her, “Father Etienne was right. They were demon lights, and fool that I was to let lights lure me from my chance.”

~finis~

Edited by man_in_mudboots, 11 October 2004 - 12:04 AM.


#24    man_in_mudboots

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Posted 11 October 2004 - 12:14 AM

just a few notes.
first off, i tried to keep as close to the original, traditional will-o-the-wisp myths as i could and tell a decent story. for some factual information, you could come--here--
second, their name is actually 'will-of-the-wisps'. i shortened it to 'willow-wisp' for the story simply because its less cumbersome.
third, i dont feel that the way i protrayed the Catholic Church was very flattering. i myself am a catholic, and let me assure you that brainwashing little kids and having them scared to death for the rest of their lives is not done in the Catholic Church or in Louisiana. its for the sake of the story.
fourth, i posted the last three bits together because i thought that, if the climax wasnt all together, any of the suspense i was able to create would be lost and the plot ruined by being interrupted.

Edited by man_in_mudboots, 11 October 2004 - 12:19 AM.


#25    Arsenik

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Posted 11 October 2004 - 10:31 AM

How much more do you have left to post?

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#26    man_in_mudboots

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Posted 11 October 2004 - 08:01 PM

urm......thats all there is.  huh.gif  that little 'finis' there means ' the end'.


#27    Daughter of the Nine Moons

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Posted 13 October 2004 - 03:27 PM

Very cool M&M. I really enjoyed  your story. Thank you for sharing it grin2.gif

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#28    man_in_mudboots

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Posted 15 October 2004 - 08:17 PM

im glad you did, i enjoyed writing it and reading what all yall said about it.
im already thinking about writing another one, in fact, since i had so much fun doing this one.


#29    Daughter of the Nine Moons

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Posted 15 October 2004 - 08:19 PM

Good work M&M, I would love to read more grin2.gif

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#30    man_in_mudboots

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Posted 15 October 2004 - 09:56 PM

well, i dont know if you noticed, but it tried to give this story a twist ending. the next one i write im going to do a bit better job with that. the next story, like this one, is going to be based around a mythical creature, but i plan on making the next one center more on the critter than the character. chances are good it will turn out just like this one, and ill develop my own little set of formula plots.





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