Stone-Faced (Fiction) & Emilio Pasquale Photo

Photo by Emilio Pasquale
Photo by Emilio Pasquale (story that follows, by me!)

Becca Morris stretched in the chaise lounge on the patio of the courtyard, her back to the main building. Five women in various states of dishevelment sat cross-legged in the middle of the grassy lawn, chins up, eyes closed with hands resting on their knees. They chanted in unison, following the instructor’s lead. She’d read about this; some sort of meditation class that promised to help them train their inner spirits and balance chakras or something like that. Whatever, she thought with an eye roll.

Her gaze traveled between the yoga group and the winged creature statues sitting atop the eight pillars surrounding the courtyard. An ominous feeling blanketed her spirit. She sensed that ethereal chants wouldn’t be enough to save her.

“Becca Morris,” the lady wearing a beige lab coat called out. “You have a visitor!”

Becca leaned to her left and craned her neck to see behind her. She couldn’t see the woman, but didn’t care to try harder. “Right here,” she called out, waving her hand. She returned to her monitoring of the courtyard. She could tell by the wafting scent of apple blossoms that her friend, Danielle, had just sat in the lounge chair next to her.

“So, how are you doing?”

She shrugged. “Other than the fact I don’t belong here, I guess I’m fine.”

Danielle clasped her hands. “You had quite an episode, I hear.”

“An episode.” Becca snorted. “Is that what they call it?”

Her friend leaned back in the chair and released an exaggerated exhale. “Why don’t you tell me what happened?”

Becca kept her attention fixed on the perimeter, surveying the winged stone guardians. “I saw them in my peripheral vision. They were taking over Mount Ord. I had to stop them.”

“Who?”

“The rocks moved up the mountain, so I pulled my car over and watched. That’s when I realized they weren’t just rocks; they were creatures with hump-backs, almost like turtles. Some of them walked on two legs, others on four–” Becca halted her words and jerked her head to the right. She squinted her eyes, barely breathing as she focused. “That one moved!” She pointed to the winged creature atop a pillar to her right.

Danielle followed Becca’s gaze and finger point. She didn’t detect any change. She looked back at her friend. “I don’t know what’s going on with you.   They said you were arrested while tossing rocks off the mountain onto the highway.”

“They can’t congregate. They plan to take over the world.”

“You don’t think that sounds crazy?”

Becca’s gaze continued to rove from statue to statue. “They think so, which is why I’m here.”

“This is serious!” Danielle rubbed her forehead. “After your evaluation, they’re taking you to jail. Destruction of property, resisting arrest, assaulting an officer, and a bunch of other things I don’t remember.”

“Won’t matter. They’ll have taken over by then.”

“The statues?”

“It’s gone,” Becca whispered.

Danielle lifted her chin to look at the pillars. She gasped when she noticed the pillar to their right was indeed empty – the winged creature no longer posed with wings lifted.

“Do you believe me now?”

“I-I don’t know what to think.”

Becca jumped from her chair, then lifted it over her head and hurled it to the ground. She kept smashing the chair until she was able to break off the longest support pole. She gripped it in her hands and ran across the courtyard.

“Where are you going?”

Becca didn’t answer. She swung the pole at the pillars and winged statues, sending shards of plaster raining down. Two men burst out of the building and tackled her. She fought back, but they managed to wrestle the pole from her and pin her to the ground.

“She’s had another episode. We’ll need to medicate her, so you should go,” the woman in the beige lab coat said with her hand on Danielle’s arm.

Danielle nodded and let the woman lead her through the double doors into the building. She glanced over her shoulder one more time and saw one of the men removing a syringe from her friend’s arm. Becca barely moved. The woman pulled Danielle’s elbow and ushered her toward the exit.

Becca’s eyes widened as two winged creatures circled above. In her mind, she pointed and screamed, but her arm remained limp and her voice couldn’t overcome the injection’s effects.

With powerful talons, four of the winged creatures grasped the shirts of the two doctors hovering over her and dragged them away. Groggy from the sedative, she couldn’t tell if the same creatures came for her, or if it was another set, but she felt the breeze on her back as she ascended.

***          ***          ***

Becca’s eyelids fluttered open and then squeezed shut against the bright light. She reached her hands to cover her eyes, but they didn’t move. Restraints around her wrists dug into her skin. She flexed her leg muscles, but discovered her ankles were bound as well. Starting to panic, she tried to scream but only a timid moan escaped. As her eyes became accustomed to the light, she looked around her. Dozens of tables arranged in rows filled the room. A groan came from the table next to her. Becca strained to glimpse the person and their gazes locked. She gasped when she saw stone where skin should be. A perfectly chiseled face stared back at her, eyes unblinking. Frightened, she jerked her head to the left. Another stone face. She looked at her arms and grew numb with disbelief when she saw her skin marbled with stone.

A turtle-like stone figure moved down the row toward her. The steps clomped on the concrete floor and echoed in the cavernous room.

“Where am I?” Her words were unintelligible to her own ears.

The figure stopped and squeezed Becca’s leg then ran its stony limb along her forehead, making a scraping sound. Stone on stone, she thought. Panic rose in her chest.

Metamorphosis room.

The idea cut through her anxiety, and she realized it must have been a telepathically transmitted response to her question. “Why?”

Start with the heart

then conquer the mind;

when the body is stone

the time is right.

“What’s that mean?”

The stone figure continued down the row, checking each subject, leaving the question to evaporate, unanswered. The footsteps grew distant and then the double-doors closed with a jarring clang.

Becca’s thoughts stalled and her body grew rigid. The restraints around her wrists and ankles snapped and the table tilted, sliding her to her feet. As if in a trance, she shuffled toward the double-doors.

It’s time.

 ~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-

Thanks to Emilio Pasquale for providing the photo as inspiration for this story.  If you  haven’t checked out his photography blog, you should!

Inspiration:  The photo was the obvious inspiration.  I started two other stories, but grew bored with them early on.  Finally, I came up with the story during a drive to Phoenix.  I caught sight of a boulder on the side of a mountain, and at the angle, it almost looked like it was moving  up the mountain.  That’s when I got the idea to write a story about stone-like creatures taking over the world.  I know my mind isn’t right, but let’s just go with it. okay? 🙂

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65 thoughts on “Stone-Faced (Fiction) & Emilio Pasquale Photo

    • jannatwrites January 23, 2015 / 12:16 AM

      Thanks, Susan! I haven’t developed a fiction piece in a while, so it was actually a relief that this one decided to come together 🙂

  1. suzicate January 22, 2015 / 7:27 AM

    Like I’ve said before, your imagination is amazing!

  2. Kathy Combs (@Kathy29156) January 22, 2015 / 8:03 AM

    WOW, that was freaky awesome. A little frightening but Bravo to your amazing imagination and ability to put it all into words. You brought this to life, the terror, the insanity. Girl, you should be getting PAID big bucks to write these amazing stories. You are phenomenal!! ♥♥ I am always in AWE of your fiction. You never disappoint! ♥

    • jannatwrites January 23, 2015 / 12:17 AM

      Thanks so much, Kathy! (I think I should be paying you big bucks for all the nice things you wrote here… but since I have no money, I hope my thank you is enough 🙂 ) I appreciate you taking time to keep up with my writing!

  3. momsomniac January 22, 2015 / 8:29 AM

    Really enjoyed this! Have you considered submitting this to a speculative fiction ‘zine?

    • jannatwrites January 23, 2015 / 12:19 AM

      Thanks, Momsomniac! I hadn’t considered that, since I wrote it just for Emilio’s photo. I’m finding that many places I could submit to only want non-published work, and blogs are considered published.

      • knotrune January 23, 2015 / 4:39 AM

        You could self publish, plenty of people here would buy your book(s)!

        • jannatwrites January 25, 2015 / 3:41 PM

          Thanks for the encouragement, Knotrune! When I get to a better place in my life, I may just work on compiling something… I like that idea.

  4. Paula J Wray January 22, 2015 / 8:42 AM

    This is a great story. One question. Have they evaluated you yet?

    • jannatwrites January 23, 2015 / 12:20 AM

      Hahaha, if “they” ever catch up to me, I’m done for, Paula! (To answer your question, no- I’ve evaded evaluation to this point 🙂 )

  5. Stacy P. Fischer January 22, 2015 / 8:51 AM

    Hi, Janna. I clicked through to here from Emilio’s post, and I’ve spent the last 10 minutes enthralled by your blog. I’m a happy new follower and look forward to seeing your posts in my Reader!

    • jannatwrites January 23, 2015 / 12:22 AM

      Thank you so much for reading through some of my blog and subscribing, Stacy! I’m glad you enjoyed your time here 🙂

  6. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) January 22, 2015 / 8:56 AM

    What a great mix of Kafka and Narnia.. the idea could be evolved into a complete novel I think. Still it also could work as a metaphor for what is happening to humanity.

    Excellent and captivating write.

    • jannatwrites January 23, 2015 / 12:23 AM

      I like your analysis, Bjorn! You’ve read much more depth into it than I consciously wrote 🙂

  7. Bryan Ens January 22, 2015 / 10:05 AM

    nice! Reminds me a lot of the “weeping angel” episodes of Dr.Who. I enjoyed this piece very much!

    • Leigh W. Smith January 22, 2015 / 11:33 AM

      Great Minds think alike, Bryan! 😉 I immediately flashed to those DW episodes.

    • jannatwrites January 23, 2015 / 12:24 AM

      Thanks for reading, Bryan! I’ve not seen Dr. Who, but I’m curious 🙂

      • Bryan Ens January 23, 2015 / 6:18 AM

        my wife and I just started watching Dr.Who a few months back…fortunately our public library has all the videos (from the new incarnation of the series, at least). The weeping angel ones are, perhaps, among the freakiest. Check out the series if you have the chance!

        • jannatwrites January 25, 2015 / 3:42 PM

          I’ll have to see if they are on Netflix, Bryan!

        • Bryan Ens January 25, 2015 / 10:24 PM

          I have heard that they are…but also heard rumours that netflix will be pulling them in a bit, so catch up while you can!

        • jannatwrites January 26, 2015 / 8:53 PM

          I’ll see if I have a chance to check this out over the weekend!

  8. nrhatch January 22, 2015 / 10:22 AM

    You’re a pillar of the writing community, Janna! 😛

    • jannatwrites January 23, 2015 / 12:25 AM

      Haha, funny, Nancy! Glad you stopped by 🙂

  9. Emilio Pasquale January 22, 2015 / 10:58 AM

    I am very happy your mind is not right. That’s why I enjoy offering you photos to see what stories you come up with. And you never disappoint me. Stone creatures taking over the world? I’m glad I didn’t tell anyone where this photo was taken. The truth is a bit more believable but a lot less fun! Thanks, Janna, for another great story. See you next month…?

    • jannatwrites January 23, 2015 / 12:26 AM

      I’m glad you liked what I ended up with, Emilio… it was my third story attempt! You did pick a challenge this time, which is a good thing. If you’re up for it, I definitely want to write one for next month!

  10. Sean January 22, 2015 / 11:01 AM

    The fun of being snatched up by some talon-ed mythical creature. But look at the view she had. it’s good to see your mind hasn’t lost its touch. Or maybe it has but it’s a good thing anyways. It’s always interesting to see what you come up with. I think Emilio needs to send you more pictures to write about. You come up with some great stories relating to them. Have a wonderful afternoon.

    • jannatwrites January 23, 2015 / 12:27 AM

      I think my mind is just pretty messed up, Sean! Looks like there will be another Emilio photo/story in February 🙂

  11. Imelda January 22, 2015 / 11:12 AM

    Just sayin’ “Hi.” I will come back for this later. 🙂

  12. firstandfabulous January 22, 2015 / 11:20 AM

    Here by way of Emilio again. And again FABULOUS! Freaky. Not Right? Whatever. It works!!!

    • jannatwrites January 23, 2015 / 12:28 AM

      Haha, thanks so much for reading, Firstandfabulous! I’m glad you liked the story 🙂

  13. Leigh W. Smith January 22, 2015 / 11:31 AM

    And who ever said writers had to have their ‘right’ minds, Janna?! 🙂 Anyway, great foreshadowing, foreboding, and many riffs to this piece. My ears catch sort of a Whovian-updated Twilight Zone-Gaimany resonance from it. I’ve written it before, but I love it when you write speculative fiction. (And paired with a spectacular photo by Emilio, that’s just chocolate cake on the scrummy icing!)

    • jannatwrites January 23, 2015 / 12:29 AM

      Chocolate cake on the icing – funny, Leigh! I’m glad you liked the story. It was a little bizarre, which I liked because I needed that departure from reality right now 🙂

  14. Michael January 22, 2015 / 11:35 AM

    Stone monsters taking over the world. I like the way your mind works. 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 23, 2015 / 12:30 AM

      Hehe, thanks, Michael. Just beware of those rocks… they look harmless, but you never know 🙂

  15. Widdershins January 22, 2015 / 2:11 PM

    This is good. Wonderful, stupendous, MAGNIFICENT!!! 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 23, 2015 / 12:30 AM

      Wow, thanks, Widdershins! Glad you liked the story!

  16. Debbie January 22, 2015 / 6:00 PM

    Janna, you had me from the get-go on this one — totally creepy!! Emilio must be very happy with your interpretation!

    • jannatwrites January 23, 2015 / 12:32 AM

      It was a bit creepy, Debbie! I think Emilio did like the story… I always cross my fingers on these because I don’t want to ruin his photo with a so-so story 🙂

  17. joannesisco January 23, 2015 / 3:53 PM

    That was a scary one … at least to me. I have this deep fear of ‘seeing’ things that others can’t see and being committed. “Ignorance is bliss” is an expression I happily embrace!!
    You did an excellent job of weaving suspense … “It’s gone,” Becca whispered. I shivered.

    • jannatwrites January 25, 2015 / 3:43 PM

      Thanks, Joanne! I’m also fascinated with the idea that maybe the insane aren’t really insane; maybe the hallucinations aren’t hallucinations after all… so it does come out in some of my stories 🙂

      • joannesisco January 25, 2015 / 3:47 PM

        I KNOW! I wonder about that too! … and how would we ever know that perhaps there is another dimension we don’t see, but they can!

        • jannatwrites January 25, 2015 / 3:51 PM

          Exactly, Joanne! That’s just why I find it so intriguing… just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there 🙂

  18. EagleAye January 24, 2015 / 11:03 AM

    That was terrific, Janna! It’s been a long time since I’ve had the pleasure of reading one of your stories. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you around. Anyway, I love the way the tension builds in the story. We’re left wondering if she’s crazy or not. I knew in the end she wouldn’t be. I was just excited to see how it turned out. That finish was perfectly creep and horrifying. This is exactly the kind of story I love to read. Loved it! 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 25, 2015 / 3:44 PM

      Thanks for reading, EagleAye! Yes, it has been a while since I’ve seen you around. Probably because I bowed out of most of the writing challenges over the last six months or so. I’m glad you enjoyed this story – I was happy with how it turned out, so I’m glad it was received well 🙂

  19. Imelda January 24, 2015 / 9:18 PM

    This is great, Janna. 🙂 The story is thrilling and you handled the blurring of reality very well. 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 25, 2015 / 3:44 PM

      Thanks, Imelda – I appreciate you reading it!

  20. GodGirl January 25, 2015 / 2:28 AM

    This is gorgeous! Such an engaging, magical piece. I love the ending, how she responds to the telepathic message. And I was really curious about her mental state – what was real and what wasn’t. Great stuff!

    • jannatwrites January 25, 2015 / 3:45 PM

      Thanks, GodGirl! I’m glad you enjoyed the story… I know it was a bit “out there” 🙂

  21. agjorgenson January 25, 2015 / 3:10 PM

    Your mind isn’t right? Thanks goodness!

    • jannatwrites January 25, 2015 / 3:46 PM

      Haha, well, sometimes it works out anyway 🙂 Thanks for reading, Allen!

  22. mbarkersimpson January 25, 2015 / 5:38 PM

    Wow, Janna, the imagery in this piece is amazing. I was totally caught up. Now I’m desperate to learn Becca’s fate – it’s a truly haunting tale and beautifully told. I did not see it coming!

    • jannatwrites January 26, 2015 / 8:52 PM

      Thanks for reading, Mel! In glad the story kept your interest 🙂

  23. Tessa January 27, 2015 / 6:11 PM

    Another great story!

  24. Sarah Ann February 4, 2015 / 5:29 AM

    Nice and creepy, or rather quite unpleasant and creepy. Danielle providing the introduction and reactio to Becca’s initial behaviour is really well done. As for being carried off and turned to stone, I always want more and want to know why these stone creatures are rolling hills and converting humans. Well done for pulling me in and enticing me.

    • jannatwrites February 5, 2015 / 9:21 PM

      I’m glad you found the story creepy, Sarah Ann… it was supposed to be pretty bizarre! I didn’t think enough ahead to form a distinct idea of the motive and goal, other than to dominate earth.

  25. pattisj February 22, 2015 / 10:45 PM

    I was expecting Danielle to somehow end up there–a sequel maybe?

    • jannatwrites February 22, 2015 / 11:08 PM

      I hadn’t thought about that, but maybe 🙂

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