It's come to my attention that sometimes, you could write too many words and thoroughly waste your entire writing time. So, since it's been a week and I should probably get to posting another prompt thread. As an additional, optional challenge, I would like you guys to tell an entire, self-contained story in one scene, though time limit and word count isn't really something I'd be concerned about. Rom did win the last one, but I'd like to save his suggested prompt for something without constraint.
Prompt 1: It's a concept as old as Chinese chess- Two forces opposed to each other ruthlessly matching wits, speed, and strength while rarely (If ever) laying eyes on each other. Two snipers duelling, two assassins sent to kill each other, Samurai doing that classic movie thing where they sword fight each other through high foliage or an obscuring paper wall. Even a detective on the cusp of finding some master criminal would work perfectly well, as long as the struggle between two enemies who can't see each other for most of the action meets an epic conclusion in your story.
Prompt 2: Little Timmy (Or whoever it is) is sick, and absolutely nobody knows what's wrong with him. A doctor/scientist/something to that effect is called in, as well as the local exorcist/wizard/Cult Leader/Whathaveyou. Their methods vary greatly, and they don't get along very well, but when Timmy's ailment turns out to be something neither of them expected nor really know how to deal with, they have to work together to save the day... Or at least keep Timmy from ending all human life on the planet.
Prompt 3: A man once said that Eastern media seems weirder than Western media, because it quite often tackles themes like the passage of time, a thing that happens in nature, or an emotion, and evoking that emotion or the point made about the other subjects often takes precedence over realism and narrative consistency, which feels off to western audiences. That man has obviously never read anything Lovecraft wrote or gone to France in his life. Either way, write a story where surrealism takes hold for the purpose of evoking a particular emotion or making some sort of poetic statement.
I'm desperate for a distraction right now, so I'll attempt the third prompt.
Portrait of me
I stare at the portrait on the opposite wall.
The artist I hired crafted it lovingly for me a few years ago. It was a wedding gift for my bride. She loved it, and because she loved it, I loved it, too.
The portrait stares back at me.
I spent so much time waiting for the portrait to be completed. The long hours of sitting there, of watching the artist working oh-so-painstakingly, glossing the frame with layers upon layers of honey-colored varnish.
The portrait continues to stare back at me, eyes unblinking. There is a grin eternally etched onto its face.
All those hours... I, too, poured my heart and soul into it. And at the time, it was worth it: to see my love's fair face brighten into a loving smile when she saw it the first time. She used to look at it every day.
I inspect the portrait closely and find myself disgusted by that ugly grin. Ugh, the way that grin pulls up the muscles on the cheeks and scrunches up the skin around those unblinking eyes.
I always thought she would love me forever. The portrait was supposed to be the symbol of our everlasting love---the essence of the soul-deep connection we had to each other. But now, the portrait is still here, and she is not.
There is something inherently wrong about the portrait---I can't place a finger on what it is. I scratch at the face, and my nails on the surface makes a bone-chilling creek.
Sometimes I wished she was still here. It was her fault, really. She didn't have to sleep with my brother. She couldn't have expected me to control my devastating disappointment and anger; surely she knew how much I loved her.
It must be the eyes. Those eyes are soulless. I punch my fist into the portrait, and shards of glass, laced with fresh blood, fall onto the floor. The pieces of the portrait still continue to stare back at me from below, accusingly.
Her betrayal felt like my heart was being ripped out from my chest. So I ripped hers out of hers, too. I had to do the same, right? I had to do the same to her.
That shattered grin... those unblinking eyes... I crouch down to grab one of the shards and use it to stab at its eyes. Blood spews out from its sockets, wetting my face with sticky fluid.
And then, blissfully, I no longer have to stare into those soulless orbs ever again.
Whoops. Well, I was aiming for surrealism, truly, but then it got pretty real at the end... hehe.
I don't know what's going on, but uxoricide is starting to be a running theme in prompt threads these days. I mean, come on, it's not like it's a common enough occurrence that it has its own word or anything.
Huh, I don't think I ever wrote about wife-killing before, and really, I just got lazy and used it as part of the backstory. Besides, it seems like genocide and infanticide are more my type of thing, you know?
I liked this because up to about halfway through, this didn't sound too different from that horror story where a man offers to paint his wife and tells her not to move whilst he paints her. And she loves him, loves him so much that she never, ever moves, and gradually wastes away whilst he paints her. He finishes the painting, exhilarated, and then realises with horror that she is dead. (I'm not sure why he's not dead as well, since he was painting all that time without resting.)
Anyway, the first half of your writing reminded me of that.
Of course, my visualisation of this was then interrupted by the unwelcome imagery of this woman sleeping with the guy's brother and then I realised it was just about domestic abuse. (The part about the heart being ripped out of the chest reminded me of a very different horror story, though. Funny, that.)
Overall, I think your writing is good and very emotive, even if the overall theme has been done before. I saw three different influences from separate horror stories (hell, let's even bring Dorian Grey into this, shall we?) and I think it's interesting that it could've gone in either direction. Keep it up.
Yes! I suppose this was slightly influenced by Edgar Allan Poe ("The Oval Portrait," I think it was called?). And maybe "The Yellow Wallpaper," too. I wouldn't say Dorian Grey, but actually, the story was more heavily based on the movie Black Swan.
I thought about removing the sleeping-with-the-brother part, but then I decided to keep it in there to highlight how delusional and scatterbrained the main character is. And because I wanted to keep the whole thing short and wrap it up with a bow.
Thanks for the review, Saika! :) (it doesn't look like we get enough of them around here!)