Below is a very short piece which is a story by a new writer, Kip Grimes. It is to be evaluated for plot and conflict. What do you think this writer needs to learn first? What one technique would improve this story with the least effort? (please leave out formatting of the text and typos - all that is my fault. Jacqueline Lichtenberg)
Chelsea awoke as the sun touched the tops of the trees. She lay still for a moment listening for movement downstairs, listening for the man going through his routine of getting ready for work. She wiggled her toes in anticipation of what was to come. It was football season, a time of plenty. A ripe time.
The man showered and grumbled to himself as he dressed for his long work shift, and stumbled as he put on his shoes. Chelsea stifled a giggle and stayed still while she listened. She could smell the cheap hotdog with mustard that the man ate for his meal as he shook out the newspaper. Chelsea had very acute senses. The man mumbled to the newspaper as he read about the high price of gas, the local rotary club dinner, and a story about a missing teen. She listened as he slammed down the paper, fumbled with his keys, and left the house, locking the door behind him. Yet she remained still in the attic, only rising as the sound of his car faded in the distance.
Chelsea sat on her nest for a moment, a pile of stolen clothing and articles that she might need to pass for a teenager of the current decade. She picked out some to wear, making a mental note that they were from at least two separate girls. There was no need being questioned about why she was wearing the exact clothing of a girl that was about her size who had gone missing a few months ago. She moved, creeping over beams and rafters, scattering mice and insects in her path. She paid them no attention and they dared not approach her, even when she had slept. She grappled with the attic opening and swung herself down then crawled back upon a chair to carefully replace the plywood that serviced as a door into the ceiling. This place was quite a convenient find and she wasn’t ready to lose it. She walked carefree down the hallway, her throat tight with thirst, but as she passed the kitchen she didn’t even give it a glance.
Chelsea was covered with dust from her slumber in the attic, so she entered the bathroom that was still warm and steamy from the man’s showering and bathed as if she were not an intruder but a rightful occupant of the home. Afterwards she put on her stolen items (they were to die for, if the truth was to be told) so that she mimicked the style of the teenage girls now; she was eager to blend in with them.
She opened the door just a sliver to check and see if there were any wandering eyes. When she was certain she was unseen she slipped out the front door, making sure to lock it back, and turned to face the night that was now upon her. She tilted her pale face up to the moon and her eyes reflected the light fully. Chelsea smiled, and her teeth glinted in the silver light. She was thirsty and ready to hunt.
Chelsea had good luck. Sometimes great things seemed to fall into her lap. She walked to the football field, guided by the lights glowing at the edge of town, carefully planning her night in respect to what she had done the few nights before and what she would do in the future. Chelsea had learned that she had to plan every night in advance. She would have hitchhiked, but she did that last night and didn’t want to set a pattern that the police might notice in case last night’s meal had been found. Plus, variety was the spice of life! Though she liked to have a routine to fall back on when food was scarce, she loved the challenge of a novel situation in her hunts.
She had seasonal patterns to her hunts such as hunting at football games, but she made sure to move around from town to town and nest to nest. She spent this time of the year down in the southern states, where football was king and everyone was out in the dark of the evening until very late. Ahh the games, the darkness under the bleachers, the bonfires, the pep rallies, the dances in the dark! There are so many opportunities for her.
Teenagers are well known to make mistakes and misjudgments during those times. She just needs to be where they are, because sometimes they go out to places they don’t know for adventure. Sometimes they get lost. Sometimes they are never found. Most were thought to be runaways. She recognized the personality and chose them just for that if she could. It kept her safe. Why look for a killer when the kid had probably run away to the city to get away from an abusive family? She knows the authorities just go through the motions in those cases.
Chelsea had made the mistake of creating a pattern when she was much younger in her existence when she was barely making it from one night to another. Those days were hard and she almost didn’t make it. Now they were over. You could say she graduated: earned her diploma to her existence. She had learned many tricks to surviving after many years. She patted her pocket that contained the money from the man she had killed the night before. Yes, she had learned many tricks.
The bored teacher at the gate didn’t even glance up as she took the money and handed the pretty, pale girl a student ticket. Chelsea smiled at the idea of paying student prices, but isn’t it all pretend?
The noise and smell of a football game never changed, even after many years. It’s funny that a large crowd is the easiest place to hide.
Chelsea made her way to the home side, weaving through the old men watching the game at the fence and the kids running to buy candy at the concession stand, looking for the crowd of boys that considered themselves tough and cool. And there they were, just as they were in every stadium. The boys sat at the far end of the stands, at the top. Same spot year after year. Over time she had watched the clothing change from white tees and black leather, to bell bottoms and paisley shirts, to polyester, to acid washed, to baggy, and it went on and on. They all thought they were the first ones to be so cool, that nobody had ever done what they were doing, but she knew better. She had seen some fashions come and go many times. That attitude of being the first and being tough made them easy to handle. The fashions and technology changed, but human nature stayed the same. She was an expert on human behavior. You could say her whole existence belonged to the study and understanding of it.
She sat below the boys, tossing her long hair and letting them see her, knowing they would talk about her. Chelsea was beautiful and she knew it. She used her beauty the way hunters used bait. She waited. The boys giggled and boasted loudly so she would hear, working their nerves up to see which one would be tough enough to come out on top and approach her. Finally one did.
“Hey, whatschur’ name?” The freckled boy with dirty blonde hair falling into his eyes was the one asking.
He slung his head backwards, revealing pimples and hickeys on his neck. Apparently they were not all freckles. Pity, this was going to be a nasty meal.
“ Shelly,” stated Chelsea. The boy told her that his name was Jared James,
”Just like Jesse James. Ya know, the motorcycle guy?” He said in a tone that hinted that she should be impressed. She pretended to be even though she wanted to laugh. This is all part of the game.
“Shelly, huh? What is your last name?”
“Killingsworth.” Said Chelsea with an inward grin at her own little joke.
She had many names over the years but kept them all related, Chelsea, Shelly, Michelle, Shayla. Then came the questions. Questions of where she was from, what was she doing there, etcetera. She had an answer for all of them. Her basic story never changed. She was from Chicago. Her parents were divorced, and she was moving in with her aunt who lived in the countryside alone. She was starting school on Monday as a junior, and so on and so on, and Scooby Dooby Doo.
During the interchange the boy slowly settled beside her as Chelsea knew he would. Now he knew she was new, and a new girl in school, especially a pretty new girl in school was a prize to have. A boy like this one knew that it was his ticket.
Jared told her that he was a senior and would have graduated last year except he got held back because of that asshole teacher Mr. Hitler.
Chelsea raised her eyebrows in feigned surprise and said in a naïve whisper, “You have a teacher name Mr. Hitler?”
“Hell, no! We just, or I just call him that. I called him that right to his face…. or I will. His real name is Mr. Drittler.”
“Oh! That is so funny! Drittler Hitler!” Chelsea said this as if the boy had just told her the greatest joke of all time. As she giggled she put her hand on his arm and briefly leaned her head on his shoulder. Jared looked at her in surprise for a moment, letting what was happening register and then stuttered out that there was a party later tonight out in the mountains and wondered if she would like to go.
“We have a keg,” he whispered in her ear. Such an invitation is exactly what she wanted. It changed her plans a little but yes, she could do that.
“Ooh, good…I am sooo thirsty and I love a wild party,” she cooed in his ear.
Jared could not believe his good luck. He turned and grinned at the other guys who groaned.
Chelsea began to talk to Jared, telling him that her aunt didn’t care when she came home, and she could pretty much do as she pleased, which made her aunt much better than her parents. She and Jared slowly got into the conversation of grown ups and teachers, how they tried to tell you what to do, how we should party when we wanted, and so on, and so on. Chelsea led this conversation though Jared didn’t know it. She pulled anger from him and fed him admiration. She flirted and touched him.
The fly did not realize that he was caught in the web, and the spider was closing in.
The other boys watched for a bit then threw up their hands and wandered off. Jared had caught the new girl first. Oh well, they would see him later at the party and then the next day he could tell them all about it.
It was getting close to halftime when Chelsea stood and said that she was tired of sitting and wanted to walk around. She asked Jared if he would like to walk around and show her the school. They walked around the field, and under the dark of the bleachers Jared stopped and turned to her. Chelsea walked up to him and looked up into his eyes. Jared almost backed off, for a second they seemed to glow like a cat’s eyes in the dark. Then she put her hands on his shoulders and he bent down and kissed her. Chelsea jumped and backed off, pretending that she didn’t expect that. Jared was immediately apologetic and scared that he had gone too far. Then Chelsea told him no, that it was ok, and that she thought he was pretty cool. She said she liked him, and then she kissed him back, longer and slower than the first time.
Chelsea broke the kiss off and asked what the front of the school looked like, and asked if he would like to leave the game to show her around the campus. Jared immediately put together the scenario of what might take place and jumped on the chance. They walked out of the chain link gate that contained the false daylight of the stadium lights and into the shadows and darkness of the night.
They walked around the buildings, and Jared made a pretense of showing her the buildings, but he kept moving closer to her, touching her, and finally he pulled her into the shadows to kiss her again. Chelsea told him that she was afraid that they would be seen and led him towards the dark cars in the parking lot. Jared started looking for cars with the doors unlocked in the darkest part of the lot, and sure enough, he finally found one. Chelsea and Jared crawled into the backseat. Jared could not believe he was with such a pretty girl. All of his girlfriends had been skanks compared to this one. Jared was surprised that she didn’t seem to be afraid or care. And Chelsea did not. She was watching, listening, and waiting. She started kissing his face and neck. Jared could not believe how hard her kisses were, but after the initial hard one, it didn’t seem to hurt anymore. As a matter of fact he felt good. He felt like he was drifting and was getting more and more light headed, and his neck felt so warm. Jared felt satisfied, and all he needed was a good, deep sleep.
Chelsea was lost in herself and she was getting full. The pumping jet was slowing down to an intermittent trickle. She started to relax and drift.
“WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING TO MY DAUGHTER?” A voice yelled and roughly pulled the boy off of her, throwing him aside like a rag doll. Jared’s body slowly slumped down the side of a minivan next to the car. Chelsea looked up in surprise and saw the face of an angry man holding a tire iron right before it crashed into her face. Then everything went dark.
Chelsea slowly and painfully awoke in the front seat of a car. Though she was already starting to heal, her face was still a bloody mess. She had been tied very tightly with nylon rope. She could barely move. She looked over at the man driving the car and he leaned his face close to hers and said,” So you finally woke up did you, you hell bitch.” Chelsea, though surprised and confused, knew she was in deep trouble. She possessed strength that most girls did not have, and had a few extra powers that might amaze, but she was not ancient enough to have the awesome powers of a true old one. This man was large and powerful. She had to try to think her way out of this. First thing was to see what he knew about her.
“ What are you going to do with me?” She said this as she worked up tears. She had to appear as much as an ordinary teenage girl as possible. “ I want to go home! Please don’t kill me like you did my boyfriend!”
The man just smiled at her and said with a laugh, “Boyfriend?” He spat and shook his head in disgust. He pointed the tire iron at her and said, “What did you think of the daughter thing? Pretty good one, huh? I know a few tricks too you know.
“I know what you are. I have been waiting for you. You killed my brother.” He said flatly.
Chelsea was surprised at that. How could she kill this old guy’s brother? Was he the guy she killed last night? How would he have known about that?
The man must have known what she was thinking and said to her, “Don’t even try to act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. Don’t try to act human! You might look like a girl but you ARE NOT! You killed my brother. I saw it all. I couldn’t believe it when I saw you tonight talking to that boy but I knew it was you. You were the last person seen with my brother and I was the one that saw you. I was just a little kid but I saw you kill him. You killed him the same way you killed that boy tonight but that was almost thirty years ago and you HAVE NOT AGED A BIT!”
Well, now it was out. The man knew her for what she was and he looked at her after this little speech as if he wanted her to say, “You are so smart! You got me Bub,” but she just studied him, trying to figure out how much fact he knew from fiction about her kind. Some of the legends were true and some were just made up garbage, but sometimes that garbage could be used to an advantage. Getting out of this might depend upon what he believed to be true, not what is true. The man drove her down a dirt road and stopped. He sat for a moment, hands on the steering wheel, just looking at her. He nodded then shook himself into action and got out, pulling her roughly from the car. He then stopped, considering what to do with her. She knew what was going through his head, should he use a stake? Did it have to be a certain kind of wood? Could he chop her up into little bitty bits and scatter her body? How about burn her? Why not tie her to a tree and let the sun kill her?
He pulled her over to a tree so “whoopee” it looked like the slowly dying in the rising sunlight was the choice of the night. That sounded like a nice, slow sentence. He dragged her to the tree and tied her tightly, readjusting the nylon ropes, and then sat on the hood of the car to watch her.
“How old are you anyway?” He asked.
She didn’t answer. Chelsea could tell that made him mad. Good, let him get mad.
“ Where did you come from? Where does your kind come from?” Still she did not answer. “You ANSWER ME! YOU OWE IT TO ME!”
When Chelsea did not even lift her head to look at him he decided that to make her talk he would beat it out of her and make her beg to be let go. Begging would be great. He jumped off the hood of the car and walked over to her. He started to punch and kick her, grabbing her hair and pulling her head up to look into her eyes. Chelsea didn’t let fear show in her eyes, she just stared back.
This would not do. He walked back to the car and picked up the tire iron. Chelsea just had time to think, “Oh Shit this is going to hurt,” before she lost consciousness again.
The man continued until he grew tired. He dropped the tire iron and slowly walked back to the car hood to sit, covered with Chelsea’s blood. He slowly drifted to sleep; it was going to be a few hours until the show at dawn, anyway, and he was sore.
Chelsea awoke in pain for the second time that night. She could barely raise her head and her face felt swollen and mushy. She had lost so much blood that her ability to heal rapidly had been greatly compromised. She shuddered in pain and shifted her weight against the ropes. They gave a little and she realized that they had been loosened during her assault. Chelsea lifted her head and saw the man sleeping on the hood of the car. She slowly wriggled against her ropes, stretching and loosening them, until finally they unwound and fell to her feet. Chelsea smiled.
The man awoke with something cool and sticky against his body, crushing him and holding him down. He was tied to the hood of the car, he could not move. Chelsea bit swiftly and hard. Blood jetted across the dirt road and she quickly covered his neck with her mouth, taking in the nourishment that would speed her recovery from the abuse she had been given by the man. She needed it all.
When he was dead she unwound the ropes but left him lying on the hood of the car. Chelsea turned towards town; towards her makeshift home in the attic, but she had to hurry. She had more work to do tonight, thanks to this man. Chelsea had an extra trip to and from home tonight, and it was going to be dawn soon.
Chelsea struggled to crawl into the attic window for the second time that night. Though she was healing she was dirty, bloody and tired. She had been extra busy tonight with her trips to and fro. When she settled in the attic on her dwindling pile of clothing from the dead, she smiled tiredly to herself. Yes, she had always been lucky.
The homeowner returned to his house from his night shift and walked past his kitchen, and into his bathroom to take a piss before going to sleep. Nothing alerted him to the fact that he shared his home with someone else. Everything was in place. Chelsea was careful of that. He slept the sleep of a hard working night shift man, rising in the early afternoon to watch some TV and do the things that people do that live alone. He started his routine of getting ready for work and read the newspaper as he ate his cheap meal of fried Spam and macaroni and cheese. He was surprised by what he read, because nothing ever happens in this small town.
Local Man Found Dead, Possible Break In Tri-State Kidnapping Case
The body belonging to Mitchell Stubbs was found early this morning on humpback road. Early investigations point to an apparent suicide. Evidence found at the scene may connect Stubbs with the disappearance of persons in the tri-state area and beyond. More information will be forthcoming as this important case is further investigated.
The police stood around the body of Mitchell Stubbs that still lay upon the hood of the car, while the crime photographers waved away flies and took pictures. In Mitchell’s car they found a large amount of clothing that seemed to match the clothes of girls who had gone missing; some as long as three years ago. Stains that looked suspiciously like old, dried blood dotted the clothing along with fresh blood. Testing would determine if that was the case and if it belonged to the missing.
The cop standing at the edge of the road trying to block rubberneckers sighed. It was going to be a long week, late last night a local teenage boy was found dead in the parking lot at with wounds on his neck very much like Mitchell’s, the police were starting to think that Mitchell was responsible for the boys death also. He had been seen following the boy and a girl around the school. Maybe he was mad at the boy for getting the girl first. Who knows with freaks like this? Why he killed himself was unknown. Maybe he thought he was going to be found, and he wanted to die with his trophies from all of the girls he had killed before. That is what they did on TV, thought the cop as he again shook his head.
So far they have not found the murder weapon, but it looked as if he used some kind of puncturing tool, or maybe even the tire iron. Whatever it was, it left a nasty wound. The boy’s friends were interviewed and released. They were a bunch of goofy morons, anyway. They said the last they saw of their friend he was walking into the parking lot with an unidentified girl checking cars to see if they were unlocked. The boys then admitted that they do this often to find a place to make out with girls at football games. They told the policeman interviewing them that they didn’t know the girl other than that she was, as they described her, “Hot.” It can only be hoped that the girl that was with the unfortunate boy that evening had escaped and not joined the ranks of girls that were Mitchell’s victims. More than likely, they will never find her.
Chelsea awoke as the sun touched the top of the trees. Her wounds had healed and not even a small blemish appeared on her skin to show what had transpired the evening before, but she did need a bath. She listened and waited. The man had left. Her nest of clothing was much smaller, but she could fix that. She picked up what was left and stuffed them in her backpack. Time to move on. She left the attic, showered, and dressed. She slipped out the door for the last time, ready for a new town and new adventure. Chelsea walked to the highway and stuck out her thumb. She turned her eyes up to the sky letting the dull light of the moon reflect in them, and smiled as the car that passed her slowed down, then backed towards her.
The man in the car said, “Need a ride?”
Chelsea threw her backpack in the seat and said, “Yeah. Had a fight with the old man and I am leaving for good.”
The man gave Chelsea an appreciative glance; such a pretty, fresh girl to be out on her own. Anything could happen to her. A man could take advantage of her. Chelsea cocked her head sideways, as she could almost read these thoughts, and smiled at him. She turned her head towards the open window and let the wind take her hair. She tilted her chin up towards the night sky and smiled fully as the silver moonlight glinted on her teeth. Chelsea was thirsty.