Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Guest Writer: J.O. Vaughn


No matter what she did – covering her ears, humming incessantly, trying to escape to the astral planes – the electronic tone just seemed to intensify, it felt as if it were liquefying her brain, memory, motor functions, death; she tried to remember where she’d heard it before, somewhere in the past, almost like a dream the voices were real and at the same time an illusion. She managed a slight grin, she attempted to shrug but the gesture only caused more agony, she relaxed on the cold metallic flooring trying to ignore the dirt, grime and mildew that surrounded her, either way it’s not exactly the worst way to go. Her pain continued and she began to slam her head against the floor, the heavy metal only causing her to bleed, the sound wouldn’t stop but she noted that she had to be in so much pain the hand banging didn’t change much. Tears formed due to the pain, she felt very nauseated and yet still she refused to leave.  Just above her, it was eye level when she had the strength to stand, was something she’d never thought she’d live to see again, a note from her mother:
Please Mayu, wherever you are, come home.  I know you wanted to be alone in these last months but I have to beg you to let me see you one last time.  I love you and I always will, I hope you know that.  I’m sorry for what I’ve done and that I couldn’t help save you.  Please forgive me.
~ Mom
Mim. She reached up to try and grab the sheet of fading water-logged parchment, she could smell the trace of lavender among the uncanny sense of home emanating from the page. She allowed herself a moment – her ability to shield herself had steadily weakened as her body had begun its descent into death, her people knew all they had to do was place the message close enough; They knew I’d search for this.

She cried out, All right! You know I’m here. I’ve walked for miles to come and find thisWhere are you?


She took a breath but nothing had changed. For the last mile all she’d sensed was the thin trace of her mother’s letter. They’re not here. I’m alone. The moment of clear thought was again shattered by the deafening noise coming from all around her, it echoed reminding her of times she spent living in caves, the vacuuming sounds of waterfalls and a swarm of bats searching for food. Her head was spinning with colors being distorted from the pain, her dizziness and nausea increasing, Not hypothermia, she tried to control herself, perfect timing.

Everything amplified, a crescendo of life from every corner, but through the fog she sensed someone was coming closer and pushed herself as far back as she could trying to phase through the wall to free herself from the agony and eventual discovery. She squeezed her eyes shut, enjoying the sight of the colors, waiting to hear, ‘Oh, my God.’ ‘What is it?’ ‘Is she dead?’

The ringing stopped but there was a new noise invading her thoughts, “Julie.  Sorry baby, you called earlier than we agreed. Yeah.  Yeah.  I can meet you. There’s a bus, five-six minutes.  Ok, wait, wait, I need to find something to write this down.”

She opened her eyes, momentarily blinded by the sudden incoming glare from the street lights, to see the man looking around, Don’t touch my paper, use the flippin’ phonebook, it’s got enough pages torn out already. Look, there’s paper down here near this – I don’t even want to know what that is but use it.

He pulled her mother’s note from the glass door and was about to write when she gave a warning growl, “Goddamn, what the hell,” he shouted as he scrambled out the booth dropping the phone leaving it swinging, almost hitting her in the head. A woman’s voice, Julie, panicked asking what had happened and where was he and ‘Baby, are you there?  Are you ok?’

We don’t use the Lord’s name in vain, she smiled, reaching down to secure the paper, and after taking a long moment to breathe left the booth shakingly but with the determination to return home.


There were a group of African-Americans sitting near a fire playing poker and discussing a wide variety of topics, there were four different conversations but everyone seemed to participate – they were making crude jokes about the economy and women, talking about plans for tomorrow, possible job opportunities they’d heard about and needed to investigate, and what court they were going to use to play ball. Cameron, a small thin male in his late forties who always wore military gear even though he’d never served, motioned with his head to Twan who looked back and noticed Mayu returning in her Eidolon form but still looking as small and frail as a newborn kitten.

Twan, who in his late thirties was a stocky man but carried an inner strength and self-confidence that caused most people not to even notice, had known her a few weeks but he could tell that she was in excruciating pain and being that she was the bravest and strongest woman he’d ever known, seeing her look so weak broke his heart.  He put his playing cards down and excused himself, Cameron and the others acknowledged the reason, avoiding staring at Mayu while they all felt the same concern, “We’ll come, too,” Cameron offered as he gestured the others to stand up.

Twan motioned them to sit back down, “Nah, she’d want to be alone,” he refused to look away from Mayu, he didn’t want to admit it to himself or the others but before he took his first step forward he felt he had to make things clear, “It’s time.”

Cameron nodded his acknowledgement and motioned for two others to come with him to help find Kisa, Mayu’s son, while the rest stayed behind and began to pray for her to pass without much pain and allow her soulless body to be admitted into heaven. It didn’t take long for the word to spread and soon people started arriving from all sides of the community with various religious ornaments and candles lit, unity while they waited.  Mayu wasn’t a nameless nobody, sometimes it took a while for newbies to be welcomed into the community but she’d been welcomed from the first moment they’d seen her with her little boy strapped to her back and a brown leather satchel around her neck.  She always had a smile on her face, a light step and a joke, she always dismissed whatever she’d had planned for the day to help someone fix something, watch someone’s child, prepare a meal, or teach a class – she knew so much for someone so young – it was hard to believe she wasn’t some doctor or lawyer living in a three-story mansion somewhere overlooking a bluff or sitting next to a spring in the middle of the forest.  Everyone had to agree, even before they knew she wasn’t human, that her life wasn’t meant to be sitting in the middle of a barren tent city waiting to die.

© J.O. Vaughn 2010

J. O. Vaughn lives in Winston-Salem, NC where she spends most of her time researching having a passion for knowledge which she uses for her writing. Feel free to check out her website Inkslingers Anon. She appreciates constructive criticism.


  1. Intriguing - I couldn't imagine where I was being taken to - and so vividly and convincingly described - didn't miss a beat.

  2. It seems like a perfectly reasonable way for an alien to live and die in our civilised way of life. Good writing and from me gets the Honourable Spaghetti Award...once the story starts, it keeps on pulling you towards the finish

  3. The story held me, urged me to keep reading. I sense a lot more story around it but I like the questions I'm left with at the end, almost a continuation in themselves. Intriguing read.

  4. J.O. that first paragraph was magnificent. It
    sucked me in, and kept me there until I came to the finish. Your thoughts are descriptive and enticing. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Gosh what a start to a story, it sure held me spellbound as I just wanted to keep on reading , especially the convincing manner in which you expressed your thoughts and feelings -excellent.

  6. Alex Peña.
    As you said this Reading is really hard to understand for several reasons, in my opinion, one of which is the use of uncommon words, and context, and the other is that the history is a little bit confusing. However I like the intensity of the history, especially the end, when I discover that she was not a human, she was a kind of alien or something like that, but the feeling and thoughts are very similar to ours.. Thanks J.O. Vaughn for introducing us in a great story.

  7. Elena Corzo.
    I agree whit Alex "this Reading is really hard to understand"
    As a reader you think that the "person" who is expressing those experiences is a human (a women), but at the end of the story you realize that those experiences, full whit emotions and feelings are been truly expressed by an Alien.
    J.O. Vaughn you know how to capture the readers attention. Thanks.

  8. This story is lush with description, which, though not always leaving happy, warm images in the mind of the reader, nevertheless enlarge our understanding of how little we know the homeless, the unfortunates we pass in our daily routines. Are they really, and only, what they appear to be?
    The disjointed style used in telling the story might seem a little tough going at first, but maybe that only means it requires a second, or third reading, to appreciate how large a canvas is being covered in this picture.
    Different and intriguing. I wish more readers had left comments to let you know what they thought about this story.
    Thank you JOV.

  9. Thanks for the commentary - it gave me great comfort in my work and in the story itself. This was just the first 1500 words in the preface of my book - the preface continues to the point just after her death. The actual book chronicles the final year of her life leading up to the time of her death.

  10. You start me with 100,000 volts of urgency and intensity and take me through this dream or nightmare-like scenario so well that I can't discern which it is, fly me through other realm'liness, and before I know it I find myself dumped out of my imagination, sitting on concrete and looking backward. A-mazing... might be the 1st time in my life I've said "spell-binding".

  11. As far as I'm concerned, a story like this one, rich in description, allows the reader to see the story develop scene by scene, and therefore, renders it an excellent tale!

  12. I'm left with questions, but thats what a story is supposed to do. If it answered all of them, you'd have a novel or ten. (smiling) You did a fantastic job just like the other comments say with description and phrasing. This played out just like watching a film in the theatre. Great work.


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