Cycle 5 - Stories!

Posted by Kat 06/17/2020 14 Comment(s) Inanna's Game,

Ready, Set, Write!!

 

We are ready for the next batch of Inanna’s Game stories! What have you created with this cycle's inspirations?

 

This cycle’s stories should be utilizing the inspiration that was posted yesterday. Once you have written your tale and corrected it to make it as readable as possible, please post it here as a reply to this post, so that others can read your work. Make sure to put the snippet, character, and scenario numbers that you used in the top part of the post!

 

Two days before the next cycle starts, comments and voting for the best story will be cut off at 5 PM. The following day, a winner will be announced.

 

Each story remains the copyrighted material of the author posting the story. Please give us the title of the story, the identification of the snippets, characters, and scenes that you attempted to use, as well as any comments you think applicable.

 

14 Comment(s)

Stacey Nelson:
06/20/2020, 05:09:57 PM
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Carousel (Snippet 3, Character 3, Scenario 3)
Ghost light danced against windows, the once darkened windows of the warehouse. No one else occupied the park at this time of night. No one is crazy enough, the man thought. Shamus ambled toward the mysterious light despite the eerie glow.

The park was well-tended, and often full of people playing tennis or reading in the sun. It was quiet now except for the sound of his shoes along the pavement. The living was the furthest thing from his mind right now.

The murmur of voices caught his attention and directed his attention back to the warehouse. There was a change in sound as music danced in the darkness about him mingling with the scent of lilacs.

Constance loved Lilacs.

Shamus took a calming breath. There was likely nothing that would prepare him for the shadows of lives spent. These glowing dead were little more than short video clips reliving a moment over and over again for anyone who could see and hear.

A couple danced out of the warehouse laughing as they disappeared into the bushes. Not even the sound of them remained as their light dissipated.

The older man took the stairs leading to the building with caution. Aside from the light of the moon, the pathway was dark. Again lilacs filled his senses, but he didn’t increase his speed. Years of experience cautioned him to remain calm while approaching a haunted building.

Since the television interview, Shamus had received thousands of letters. At the time, he had no idea so many people were troubled by the spirits of the dead. The older man couldn’t recall a time in his life he hadn’t seen them. Couldn’t think of a reason to be afraid of dying for that matter.

“Death is just the next step,” he had told the interviewing reporter. She had been smiling and perfectly groomed for those five minutes of the video, contrasting his drawn and weary appearance.

She would probably have already screamed and ran away, crying from the warehouse he approached now.

Shamus wanted to find Constance. Since she had passed on, life wasn’t the same. He was lonely and thought asking the world for their haunted places would be a way to find her. Forty-five years you were at my side. This past year has been unbearable.

He pulled his wife’s locket from his pocket. She had always worn it, which is why he kept it close to him now.

Constance had always laughed at my premonitions. Shamus thought, Maybe she is right. Maybe these are just flights of fancy or attacks of a vivid imagination.

Shamus approached the door. Inside the letter had been a key, and the older man removed it from his pocket now. His hand shook for only a moment as he set his lips in a firm line.

The lights moved again in the window. He could see the ancient carousel turning gayly, and laughter echoed despite the lack of another living soul nearby.

Imagined or not, Shamus was going inside. Squaring his shoulders, he unlocked the door and opened it, spilling out the light and sound of a time long gone.

With one look behind, he took a deep breath before entering. Constance, wherever you are, I will find you. No matter the cost.

Shamus would see her again.

Katie:
06/23/2020, 08:00:45 PM

Love it!!

Jonah:
06/20/2020, 05:30:00 PM
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My votes for stacey nelson. I loved how she put her story together. At the moment I'm filled with more questions that I want answered from that story. I wanna know more.

Vickie garver:
06/20/2020, 05:30:54 PM
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Loved this pulled me in and I wanted more

Candi G:
06/20/2020, 06:26:59 PM
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Great job, Stacey! The story moved right along. The main character was relatable. I was really rooting for him to find his love. You had some good sensory details, including visual and olfactory. This would make a great short story (of longer length than it is now).

Tanya Mills:
06/22/2020, 02:13:38 AM
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Wow! great job. What amazing suspense. Focusing on the lilacs and her scent really brought home the sense of longing and despair for his loss. Now I am waiting for the conclusion.

Teri:
06/22/2020, 02:46:27 AM
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I vote for Stacey Nelson. I enjoyed the short story. Flowed nicely and had my attention from the beginning. Nice work :)

Sarah:
06/23/2020, 12:22:17 AM
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Really enjoyed this story!

Cara Haslwanter:
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Wolves of the Schwarzwald

Cara Haslwanter

Snippet 3, Scenario 1, Character 2

Chapter 1 – Ghost Lights

The mist surrounding the hotel was impenetrable. On the streets of London where bobbies roamed, and comforting street lamps were on every corner, the fog may have been seen as charming or mood-setting, but in the old hotel in the middle of Germany’s dense Black Forest, it seemed to pulse with a malevolent throb.

Tannah Ford had been stuck at the hotel for three weeks now. At first, she’d been thrilled to have the stop added to her European tour. As Third Seat violist for the Philadelphia Orchestra, she’d been furloughed due to a recent funding shortage. However, since bills still needed to be paid and there was no way she could have withstood moving back in with her mother, Tannah had made a plea to her agent for assistance.

The International String Quartet needed a violist, and, after a brief try-out, Tannah had gotten the job. Twenty stops across ten countries in two months had been a dream come true for her. At the last minute, they’d received a call from their booking agent. The Schwarzvald Resort was looking to round out their summer’s entertainment calendar and wanted to book the quartet.

Three weeks ago, as the August sun had shone down on the half-timber buildings of the resort, the hotel had seemed full of Old-World charm. The exposed Fachwerk felt simultaneously exotic and familiar to Tannah. It was quintessentially German, and yet it made Tannah think of the Pennsylvania Dutch settlements back home.

There was an aging, paint-chipped carousel that was a lure for local children, and the grounds boasted beautiful gardens. Meals had been hearty portions of Sauerbraten, Bratwurst, and Kartoffelpuffer. Her bed was thick with luxuriant cotton sheets, and she’d slept under a quilt with exquisite pulled thread embroidery work. At first, Tannah had fallen in love with the mystical appeal of the place.

However, an unexpected problem in the nearby town of Bad Liebenzell had curtailed all travel into and out of the region. The Quartet was stuck, trapped within the once-friendly walls of the hotel, and forced to play for their supper to the locals. The sun of August had bled into the cooler fall temperatures with seemingly no transition. September had them in her grip, and already, Tannah could sense frost and winter weren’t far behind.

Dusk settled into the grounds of the Resort. Tannah sat on a soft, warmly-lit chair in the salon and tried to read but found she was too distracted. The history of the room inspired her imagination, and she had fanciful thoughts of nineteenth and early twentieth-century intellectuals gathered around the fireplace discussing current events, art, politics, and whatever else occurred to them.

Something stirred outside and caught Tannah’s attention. Ghost lights danced against the windows, piquing her curiosity. She wondered what was out there, in the great mist-covered depths of the infamous woods. Strains of dimly-heard music wended its way through the floorboards. And from the kitchen came the murmur of many voices, but they were muffled and indistinct.

Tannah opened her book again, determined to solve the crime before Miss Marple when she heard the whiney broken cry as the carousel music began to play, and the abandoned, chipped horses started to move. The slow, undulating sound raised the hair on her neck and arms as if an ice cube had licked her nape. Unable to deny her inquisitiveness, Tannah went up to her room for her jacket and boots. There was no way to ignore this mystery. The suddenly active carousel deserved to be investigated.

Once dressed in her puffy down jacket and boots and armed with a flashlight, Tannah ventured away from the safety of the hotel proper. Small lights lit the path to the children’s play area, so despite the roiling fog, she found her way easily.

The wolves deep in the forest called to her. Tannah was afraid of the response she felt, the pull of those animals as they howled for their mates. As an American, she’d grown up on the Grimm’s fairy tales. She knew Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty were born in the villages and towns of the Black Forest, but seeing the thick woods surrounding her, Tannah had a greater understanding of why Red’s mother warned her not to get lost. Each tree and branch looked hauntingly alike and continued for endless acres.

As Tannah drew closer to her target, the light from the Merry-Go-Round faded into the fog. She frowned when she saw the man kneeling by the electrical panel and grinned to herself. Could the answer have been so simple?

Sighing with relief, Tannah increased her speed to greet the man and discover why he was working on his project during the imminent darkness. Hearing her approach, the man turned and greeted her in German.
Tannah stopped and remembered the phrasebook she had purchased at the airport. “Guten Tag. Ich bin Amerikaner.” The man smiled and nodded. Most of the Germans she’d met so far had spoken beautiful English, but now she wasn’t sure. Her head tilted as she took the man’s measure. He had shaggy brown hair that fell across his forehead and framed both his pale skin and penetrating hazel eyes. He wasn’t much older than her own twenty-nine, she realized. Maybe early thirties, she estimated. “Do you speak English?” she pushed.


Chapter 2 – The Fog

Cutter Eichhorn embraced the weather and solitude. Where other people welcomed clear skies and sunny days, Cutter craved the darkness. It was where he felt at home since the wolf attack when he was just a boy. What he really didn’t welcome were noisy American tourists wanting to talk. However, since he counted on the hotel’s work to support his salvage yard, part of his duty was being friendly to the occasional tourist who wandered across his path.

“Ja, ja,” he said. “Yes.” He nodded his head and canted his face to keep his scars facing away from her.

“I’m Tannah. Tannah Ford,” she introduced herself, extending her right hand. Her eyes met his, and she smiled encouragingly.

Cutter nodded at her typical American casualness and confidence. “I am called Cutter Eichhorn,” he said in return. “Good to meet you.” He accepted her hand and felt some small spark between them. His heart stuttered just a moment as he took in her appearance.

Tannah Ford was a delicate woman with an elegant walk and long, graceful hands. Her gamine features were framed by ashy brunette hair that cascaded past her shoulders. Probably to wear it in a chignon when she played, he thought. But it was the intelligence shining out of her light brown, nearly golden eyes that caught his attention.

He dismissed her immediately. Tannah was a city girl, probably used to the finer things in life. She was out of her element but putting on a brave face as she greeted the disfigured handyman. His shoulders tensed at the idea of inciting fear and loathing in the pretty woman. “You are one of the musicians at the hotel?” he inquired.

Tannah nodded. “Third violist in Philadelphia, but I’m here touring the castles and hotels of Europe. It was exciting at first, but now we can’t seem to leave.”

Cutter stiffened. The less spoken about the travel restrictions, the better. They happened every few months or years in Bad Liebenzell. The residents were used to it by now and planned accordingly. Although, Cutter thought, it had been close to five years since the last time the area was closed off. “It is hard on me, also.” He did a little mental calculation. “Ten days, and you should be able to leave,” he said.

“Ten days? You’re sure?”

“Ja, ja, fairly certain.”

Tannah wandered around the old wooden horses. Each one was a work of art but decorated by the eerie hand of gentle decay. “They’re beautiful. Slightly scary, but beautiful.” Something about the taciturn man interested her. Like the wolves howling in the woods, he called to her at an intrinsic level.

Her comments seemed to inspire the man. “These were all made in the early part of the 20th century by Josef Hübner.” Cutter went on about the man, his influence, and the timeless elegance of his work.
“Are there many left?”

“Enough to make him known in certain circles but not so many. Wood and horsehair are not designed to last forever, ja?”

“Wait. What? That’s real horse hair?” Tannah reached out and stroked the tail.

“Ja, ja, the old masters would make them using actual hair and hooves.”

She gave a half shudder, half laugh at the idea. “That’s a little too close to taxidermy for this city girl, I’m afraid. The hotel décor certainly lets me know lots of hunting was done here, though.” Antlers and stuffed animals were on prominent display throughout the resort.

“Hunting was more popular in years past. Now, not so much.”

Tannah pursed her lips as she considered his words as she toured the aging wooden structure. “They’ve seen better days,” she commented.

“It takes time and money to restore, Miss Ford. I run a small salvage business in town.” Cutter touched the soft mane, his fingers trailing through the black hair. “When I find the parts, I fix the beauties. But tourism isn’t what it used to be, also,” Cutter said, his voice a little sharp. He wasn’t sure he liked this American, and the easy way she spread her ideas like seeds in the wind.

Tannah snorted. “No, especially not if there are these crazy travel restrictions all the time. Frau Schweiger has practically ordered me to stay within the hotel walls after sundown.”

“That is not a bad idea,” Cutter said. He closed up the electrical panel and turned off the lights. “Come. I will walk you back to the door.”

“You don’t worry? About whatever is going on in town?” Tannah asked.

“Nein.” Cutter shook his head. “I have lived here my whole life. The wolves do not bother me any longer. But tender little tourists might not be so lucky.”

“That’s probably the only people we’re playing to at night,” Tannah said. “The hotel is a ghost town.”

“What time is your show?”

“We go on at seven.” For the first time, Tannah met someone who made her forget her love of music, and she wasn’t quite ready to let this connection go. “Will you come and hear me play?”

Cutter cast a look at the deepening sky. “I cannot. Not tonight. Tomorrow, ja?”

Tannah fought the bolt of disappointment that stabbed at her heart but then smiled. “Tomorrow,” she agreed.

Cutter walked beside her, using his bulk to shield her from the looming woods behind them. “Stay safe,” he said. Something stirred within his chest as she turned her golden eyes up to him. Cutter lifted one hand to tuck a strand of Tannah’s hair behind her ear. She gasped at the unexpected touch, but before he could move his hand away, Tannah reached up to place her hand on his chest.

Acutely aware that the light from the porch illuminated the scars that marred most of the left side of his face, Cutter ached to pull back. He felt exposed and vulnerable in front of her. Tannah’s hands lifted to cup his chin and cheek, her musician’s fingers tracing his scars.

He wasn’t an exceedingly tall man, but somehow in her glowing gaze, he felt two meters tall. Their bodies swayed closer, brought together by shared heat and the power of attraction. Tannah braced herself against his chest before rising to stand on her toes. “Guten Nacht,” she whispered. Good night. Her eyes tilted to half-mast before brushing the gentlest of kisses against his lips.

Before Cutter could respond, she darted into the house, leaving him with the faintest trace of her perfume.


Chapter 3 – Playing to the Wolves

Tannah woke the following morning to the gloomy yellow-green sunlight she was becoming familiar with. The wolves had called to her all night, stirring emotions deep within her soul. Her body felt alive as if brought to life by an electrical pulse.

The Quartet’s show ended at eleven and, after a brief discussion about a rehearsal tomorrow, had disbanded and gone their own way. The other three musicians spoke a mix of English, German, and Czech. Somehow, through their shared love of music, they made their communication work.

After a quick breakfast of fresh bread and cheese, Tannah filled her travel mug with coffee. She had plans for the day, but as she was leaving the dining room, she met up with her hostess.
“Just a few more days,” Frau Schweiger said by way of greeting.

Tannah smiled. She was getting used to the way Germans got to the point of the conversation and didn’t waste time with polite greetings.

“Are you sure?” Tannah asked. “I ran into Cutter last night. He said ten more days.”

A coldness settled onto Frau Schweiger’s demeanor. “Herr Eichhorn should not have been bothering you. I will speak to him”

“It wasn’t a bother,” Tannah assured her, but her words fell into the emptiness of the room. The woman had simply turned on one heel and left Tannah alone. The musician shrugged the woman’s odd behavior off. Music filled her soul, and no abrupt hotelier was going to bring her down.

Half an hour later, Tannah entered the deep, dark forest. The trees towered into the morning sun. Careful not to go too far into the woods, Tannah found a convenient stump and pulled her viola out of its case.
Closing her eyes, she imagined both her setting and the music she wished to play. Brahms’s Stilled Longing came from her heart and soared from her fingertips. Swaying slightly as she played, Tannah let the Black Forest scenery play in her mind.

Despite barely being within the depths of the Schwarzvald, the sunlight scarcely hit the ground. The warmth of the day clung among the top branches. The breeze that threaded its way through the forest was redolent with pine, but other smells layered close behind. There were the odors of the forest - decay and animal musk and life without end.

Tannah played to her audience. She thanked the wolves for waking her. She played to Cutter for intriguing her. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she felt each of Brahms’s slow, exquisite notes combine in a way they never had before. With sudden clarity, Tannah knew why she’d never risen higher than Third Chair. Technically, she was an excellent violist, but never before had she felt the music deep within her soul.

Cutter didn’t know why he was at the Resort this early. After a night of racing with the wolves, he was usually exhausted, but instead of finding his bed and sleeping until noon, he had showered and driven over to the Resort.

There was a part, he assured himself. A task he’d left undone the night before, but he knew those were lies. Cutter wanted to see Tannah again.

The strains of the music pulled him closer, as if she were playing just to him. He found her a meter into the forest, sitting on a fallen tree. Her eyes were closed as the music reverberated against the trees.
The ever-present resin caught and illuminated her in a halo of light. The ever-present dried pine needles were a soft carpet beneath Cutter’s feet as he approached. He waited until the last strands of the Brahms composition ended. Tannah stiffened as the notes trailed off as if sensing him there despite her closed eyes.

She rested her viola and opened her eyes, gazing at him.

“Sehr gut,” he said, clapping his hands. “You are very good. Thank you for gifting me with your talent.”

Tannah blushed at his words. “Bitte,” she responded.

Too many thoughts and hopes and dreams swirled within Cutter. He knew he could never have this beautiful woman, at least not for more than a night, and yet, she called to him in a way that was impossible to ignore.

Tannah was not a one-night kind of woman. She was a forever woman, but he could never be her forever man.

“Would you like to take a walk with me in the garden?” he invited, despite knowing there was no future between the two of them.

With careful hands, she replaced her instrument in its case and dusted the rosin from her fingers. “I would love to go for a walk with you,” she replied.

Ken K.:
06/27/2020, 02:35:48 AM

This is a great story, I wish there was more!

Gavin J Telber:
06/27/2020, 08:30:44 AM

Fanatic! Such a descriptive style I felt like I was there. Learned some German too.

Cassi Callens:
06/26/2020, 08:01:56 AM
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The Heart Runs Deeper Than the Scar
Inanna’s Game: Snippet 3, Scenario 1, Character 1

It was an old town, a little rundown but still good and as quaint as it used to be. The people there knew each other’s business. Secrets never stayed buried and anyone not keeping up with their neighbor’s affairs didn’t belong. Coming back had left the young man with an overwhelming sense of hesitance. His old man’s reputation was notorious and seemed to bring out judgements of how he resembled his father. Living in a more secluded area helped him to not take the more sensitive comments to heart.

Not too far from the house was a scrapyard that the man owned. The locals always came to buy scrap metal from him. When the day was up, he would salvage some unwanted pieces and take them back to the warehouse to be welded. Every evening until nightfall, Jace would work steadily on his creations, small metal sculptures, each one pertaining to a moment of time in his shattered past.

Weary from a long day’s work, Jace locked up the warehouse and was ready to leave when he felt a hand tap his back. Turning around he stood embedded in a daze. “I know I’m probably the last person you were expecting to see.” It took a minute for Jace to shake off his shock and gather his thoughts. “You shouldn’t have come here Robert.” Shifting his gaze to the ground his father nodded “I’ve got a place to stay for the night and then I’m gone in the morning. I hope to set somethings right with you before then.” Jace then watched as his father drove off in the night.

Ghost light illuminated the outside of the warehouse. Sounds of heavy banging emanated through the walls and climbed out into the night air. Commotion from the warehouse continued and didn’t cease until daylight broke through the peek of the surrounding trees.
Pulling up front, Jace’s father got out of his truck and strolled into the warehouse. Stunned and astonished, his father observed the chaotic scene in front of him.

In the center of the floor were Jace’s sculptures. Half of them lay flat and dented while the others appeared to have been melted down into puddles. Still a bit baffled, his father leaned over to Jace “Did someone break into the warehouse last night?” “ No,” replied Jace,” I destroyed them.” Recovering from his bewilderment, Jace’s father walked over to what was the remains of the metal objects. Kneeling down, he picked up a sculpture, still intact and slightly battered unlike the others. It depicted two people in a boat fishing, one seated in the front at the bow and the other in the middle, leaning over as if he was about to fall out. After taking some time to inspect the piece, Jace’s father stood up and placed a hand on his son’s shoulder. “I’m sorry Jace, I let you down” He began to head out the door when Jace pulled him in for a hug and whispered “I forgive you dad”

Kelly C:
06/26/2020, 01:36:35 PM

Oh this was awesome. Love is the strongest force.

Eunice:
06/26/2020, 01:50:15 PM

Wow. What a powerful story! Thank you for sharing your work.

Javier Sandoval:
06/26/2020, 09:10:26 PM

This is a great story! Thanks for delighting our senses. Good job!

Emily W.:
06/27/2020, 12:23:29 AM

Great job, Cassi! It takes a lot of skill to write with such depth.

Elise Y.:
06/26/2020, 10:31:02 PM
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This story was such a delight to read. Thanks for sharing your creativity!

Sherri Callens:
06/26/2020, 11:31:36 PM
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Really great work Cassi! You continue to write with great depth and as always tug at my heartstrings.

Kels:
06/27/2020, 01:47:44 AM
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I love this! The writing is amazing and I love the flow of the story.

Lorrisue:
06/27/2020, 11:52:37 AM
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Beautiful vignette, Cassie!

Kacey:
07/01/2020, 05:01:24 AM
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WONDERDUL STOEY, & AN ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL ENDING CASSI! Sincere Forgiveness is such a Humbling & Beautiful thing to witness in others, as well as go through personally. You have a way with words my friend!!

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