A Story by YouoweYoupay

On a hill within reach, as if it were the only structure untroubled by the bullets of rain and monstrous winds, stood a fenced two-story home.




Somewhere, the sea waves sighed against the shore; a calming hush. Like the sound of a sleeping child, interluded by moments of stillness.

A terrifying howl clawed him back to life.


He gasped for air, eyes strained and vigilant like a soldier anticipating battle. His appearance, however, suggested that the war had already concluded. His face was battered, thick brows caked with dry blood. The survivor was a bulky man but, despite his size and strength, the rain pinned him down like needles incising fabric. Fists planted in the wet sand, he gathered an effort to raise himself up, huffing chilled clouds as he turned to fall on his back with a vocal exhale. His hand reflexively shot up to his throat, his neck and muscles tensed as he panted and choked, finally finding his breath once more, almost as if he had escaped tyranny by a hairbreadth..


With a grunt, he peeled himself away from the soaked ashes of the beach. Behind the man’s back, and beyond the sheets of fog in the distance, a large fishing boat engulfed in smoke dark as lead meandered in the trembling waters. Pulling himself upward with difficulty, his entire body rang with sharp pain and he groaned as he tried to step forward with more stability, but the wound in his side and the hollering storm hampered his advances. On a hill within reach, as if it were the only structure untroubled by the bullets of rain and monstrous winds, stood a fenced two-story home.


A few thumps on the front door proved futile. He fretfully pulled down the knob but it was solidly locked. A hand over his injured side, leaning on the outer wall, he shortly located a back entrance. Locked as well, but not unbreakable. By the third slam of his shoulder against the door, the wood gave in, unshackled with the sound of a blast. Having at last reached the other side of the storm, he leaned against the door window, wearily heaving and panting as the everlasting raindrops stained the glass pane that supported his weight. The sound of the wind was now a faraway, dented hiss.


For a long minute, the man stood there taking in his surroundings; a kitchen powdered by the frail sunlight that had half-survived the metallic colors of the storm. Opposite the only window, stood a modestly small dining table partnered by three chairs -three- , a basket of apples, a rectangle of butter, smeared from the edge, and a set of ceramic kettle and teacups. In the further end of the room, in one line against the wall stood a cupboard of cinnamon shade squeezed between a wheat yellow icebox and mossy wooden counters holding a sink with piled dirty plates, the remains of the last dinner still visibly encrusted and hardened in the bowls and utensils. A bunch of onions hung over a mildly rusty stove. Humble furnishing of greens and browns now dulled in the giant robes of the storm, but perhaps also an amiable gathering space for a family on other days, the man could imagine. The mouth of the faucet dripped with a small echo over the basin of unwashed dishes and a steel cheese grater.


The man dragged himself out of the kitchen and across a hallway with a staircase, the weak arms of the sun also stretching from a rectangular glass above the firmly locked front door he had tried to open earlier. The window frame was melted by age and moisture. The sun rays quietly brushed the stranger’s glass-wet features as he lifted his chin toward the source of light; a pleasant shape of a face even beneath the purple swelling round his eyes and the bright red strokes below his brow. A broad hawk nose, light mustache edged with unease, a well-trimmed beard on the sides of his cheeks and chunks of caramel brown curls that encompassed large ears and a thick neck. He turned around slowly, toward the foot of the staircase. The peak was an abyss. From this distance, aside from stair rails half-buried in the dark, there was little hope in deciphering even the outlines of the second floor. The crease in his eyebrows spoke of frustration and fright he could not quite understand and the still water in his blue eyes threatened to erupt in a storm of its own.


“Hello?” he bleated in pain. No answer other than the chant of the rainstorm outside.


The fire sizzled and crackled in the heart of the kitchen stove. His overcoat hung at the back of the chair, trickling into a small puddle on the floor. A clear water drop fell from the leather fringes. And then another, blurred by scarlet red. He was hunched opposite the glowing jaws of the stove. Beside him on a smaller table sat a pan of warm water and a hand-held electric torch. He had to rattle it slightly before it blinked and started. He cautiously folded up the end of his sweater and frowned at the wound, a deep tear like the bright red mouth of a fish, fresh streams of blood slowly draping over copper dry stains. He scarcely touched it with a few fingers and it was as if a knife had struck him anew. His back arched as he cried in anguish and grabbed the stove door for balance, his head drooping against his chest. He remained that way for some time.


 After the faintness had left him he slowly straightened his back, his face ghostly even in the warm firelight. His pained expression broke into alarm as his head lifted toward the source of the new sound. The creaking and squeaking seemed to shift across the upper floor. The man stood on his feet again, his eyes glued to the ceiling, tracking the abrupt footsteps that plunged down the stairs. The stomping ceased and someone turned on the radio. The man hurried to the unlit living room. He searched in agitation for whoever turned on the device. A male voice on the radio solemnly reported the weather. Wind. Thunderstorm. Seventy to Eighty miles per hour. Southwesterly. The man turned the switch off, rendering the radio an idle box. As dead as its surrounding furniture.


The sound of an explosion. The man’s entire body snapped in the direction of the noise, as if the front door had been struck open with a thunderbolt, inviting the bitterness of the storm indoors. The man hurried outside, circling the front porch with his flashlight. He was deliberately being lured somewhere. But by who? The flashlight revealed his path for him. One by one, firewood logs rolled down the heap in the corner. He followed the clacking sound toward a storage space of wooden barrels, an unused stove, a rolled carpet further on one side, and more firewood. Rain drummed against the tin roof of the storage. The man descended further. Under the spot of light he pointed, he could see two bicycles that seemed neither rusted nor broken. Perfectly functional. A pile of disassembled furniture in the far end. Metal clanked over his head. Chains and farming tools. Closer to the fence, a life boat was partially shrouded in a white sheet fastened on both sides. Nonetheless, the sheet fluttered in the hoarse wind, as if on the edge of being torn free. The man stiffened as he neared the boat, his breath shallow and his eyes absorbed and frantic at the sight of the life boat that lay before him like a funeral.


The white sheets snapped loose and upsurged like an ocean wave. The man jolted back in fright, losing the flashlight from his grip. It shattered somewhere, its light extinguished. He heaved and panted as he searched in the black night, still stunned from witnessing fragments of this house fiercely come to life with no visible cause. A yellow light poured from the glass of the kitchen door. Someone closed it behind them, disappearing inside. The man managed to catch a shred of a shadow behind the door.


Another thunderbolt struck when the man slammed the door open and scanned the kitchen with a deeper frown. Dread danced with bewilderment on his face. He froze before the scene; the kitchen was now mellowed with illumination, the dining table had been set with steaming dinner; fish, green peas, soft potatoes, a bowl of mushrooms and a dish of bread loaves. Three platters. Three. A pot bubbled on the stove. A kettle whistled. The man rushed back to the bottom of the stairs where someone had just fleeted. His eyes caught the silhouette of a woman merged with the darkness at the crown of the stairs.


“Shh.” she whispered, gliding swiftly into the unseen quarters upstairs. She was not running away, there was no anxiety in her movement, still, he chased her. Wincing at the pain in his side after having impatiently dashed upstairs, he suspiciously eyed the dead end of the alleyway; a door to an unexplored room. Swallowing up the steps between him and oblivion, he wrenched the doorknob open with an iron grip, only to be greeted by a lifeless, hollow den. And the unending exhales of the storm.


The stone-hard confusion on his face slowly dissolved into warm recognition as the space filled with the light of a soft lamp. And the sound of a woman ebbed and flowed in between soothing moments of silence. She sat upright on a bed and against her chest was coiled a small boy peacefully asleep, with mildly curled brown hair and thick eyebrows similar to those of the man standing in the doorway. She held an open storybook in her hands from which she read, guiding the child to the world of dreams.


The man could not comprehend the woman’s story, murmurs that spilled like a gentle stream, but he knew the book like the palm of his hand. She had read it a thousand times. His eyes flickered with tears and his chest welled up with affection so certain that it reached her with no words. And she slightly shifted her focused eyes to look at him, a small smile on her thin lips that spoke a language of its own.


The tranquil joy in the room was a candlelight snuffed by a single blow of air. The man stood still, unable to tear his eyes away from the vastly vacant bed. He had been robbed. But of what? He strained for another tiny recollection. Just one more.


He turned in the direction of the drawings plastered on the wall. One of a rocket, shooting into space. Another of a mother and child holding hands, among other works of art shouting with vibrant colors. The rectangular paper that summoned his attention was of a house on a hill. An enormous sun shooting its rays over a family of three boarding a fishing boat. The father having been drawn larger than the latter two, a bear on two feet, his hands intertwined with wife and son.


Three. The man’s heart fell into a valley. His insides screamed as he neared full recognition. An earthquake almost wrenched his legs as he fled down the stairs toward the front door and bulldozed it with his shoulder. He collapsed under the abrupt weight of the memories.


A woman shrieked in horror. Tongues of flame stretched as tall as mountains. His boat was falling apart. He heard her cry out his name. He turned around, panic-stricken and lost in the rising fires. His wife was hardly able to remain on her feet as the brooding sea waves flung the boat side to side. Her child in her arms, they both wistfully beckoned the man to come. But where? The boat burned and crumbled and the sea roared, pledging to devour the world.


He ran toward his son and wife only to be impelled into the mercy of the flames and the sweeping waters. He was powerlessly driven back, stumbling and crashing into the bulkhead. Every cell of his body was on fire. The flames had not reached him yet, but the pain was unimaginable. His legs buckled on what remained of the deck. His wife’s screams were consumed by the fury of the flames and the howl of the storm.


For a moment he could only press his palm against his ribs, paralyzed on all fours. The boat had rocked and swayed, throwing him against the edge of the boat, and he felt a spike pierce him upon impact; a broad chip of jagged wood, turned into vicious artillery by the storm, but was once a supporting segment of the fishing boat.


He crawled to where his wife and son had briefly been, his hand pressed against the throbbing wound on his side.


The boat tremored once more, and the chains snapped, releasing the cargo of barrels and crates heavy as lead. The man was distraught. He hauled himself up and called into the black waters. He hollered their names and, as if shaken awake, he heard the sound of metal and wood insanely hurtling in his direction. He turned around, but it was too late. The fire had conquered both man and ship. The storm had whisked heaven into sea. And the final picture that rushed toward the man’s vision was a hulking wooden crate loosely chained. Then everything was dark and quiet.


Now that he had completely remembered, his sunken eyes raced toward the shore. Following the departure of the storm, the sky was a kingdom of pink pearls mirrored by the composed sea. Seagulls cawed and the boat was a charcoaled pot at the foot of the beach, sheepishly afloat almost as if in sympathy with the distraught fisherman staggering along the ripples of mud. He only paused for a moment once he’d found them; the frail shape of a woman embracing her child, both printed on the shore like snails.


He fell on his knees and his face crumpled in agony. Panting still from the chase, he cupped his son’s head with his large palm and with his other hand, supported his wife’s weight. She was made of dull porcelain, cool to the touch. He gathered them both in his arms and leaned lower, his forehead kissing the shells that had once been his only family. His head lifted toward the sky and he could not hear himself roar.

© 2020 YouoweYoupay

Author's Note

This is not an original idea. Geist is a multi-award winning 3D animated short film by Giant Animation studios, produced by Daniel Spencer. The film was spectacularly executed and the emotions of the characters and the unfolding of events stuck with me and sparked my muse. So, I decided to shake off the rust and turn the short film into a short story. Please check out Geist on Youtube. It's AMAZING.

Thank you for reading. <3

My Review

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This was masterful. I was there for every moment. Your words brought me to this world. Heart breaking and impressive. You've got a gift, girl. A prose writer with a poet's heart.

Don't listen to "experts" or "industry insiders". They don't appreciate what you're trying to convey. Trust me, nothing about this story is generic or "has no meaning for the reader". That is a deficiency on their part, not yours.

I once asked a well established author what I should do to improve my own writing since a professional manuscript reviewer had given me the business about my own inadequate work (it lacked Motivational-Reaction Units or MRUs, a basic building block of fiction writing, don't you know). Here's what he said:

"Oh dear gods. Ignore everything you hear from such a person, unless you want to become a pieceworker in a literary sweatshop, turning out interchangeable generic book-shaped objects to order for not much more than minimum wage. Take the MRUs and all the rest of the pretentious jargon and flush it down the nearest toilet. A fixation on that sort of thing is the reason why there are scores of gargantuan warehouses in the New Jersey suburbs of NYC full to the bursting with crates of books from the big publishers that were released with huge advertising campaigns and lavish reviews from all the usual paid reviewers, and had everything going for them, except that readers found nothing of interest in them, rolled their eyes, and left them on the bookstore shelves.
You become a writer by reading books you love, reflecting on why you love them, paying attention to how the authors of those books handle prose, plotting, characterization, and all the other things that go into a novel, and then applying the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair and the tips of your fingers to the keys on your keyboard, and trying to do something similar. It’s fine to be an amateur author; J.R.R. Tolkien was an amateur author, and he didn’t worry about MRUs, either — he studied the stories he loved, and started writing and telling stories like them, until the process of writing taught him to find his own voice and Middle-Earth came spilling out of his typewriter.
We are in the early stages of a revolution in the publishing industry, as significant as the rise of the pulps in the early 20th century or the paperback revolution of the 1960s. Now as then, the big gatekeeper publishers are losing their grip on the market as many smaller and less spiritually constipated firms seize market share from them by scrapping the canned formulas and publishing things that haven’t been produced by way of a cookie cutter. Plan on catching that wave, and you won’t have to worry about MRUs — just about writing the stories you want to write, for the people who want to read them. That’s what I’m doing with The Weird of Hali — and if current market trends are anything to go by, I’ll get as much distribution and make more money going that way than I would have done by going with one of the big boys. You can do the same.
Right now manuscript reviewers who work for the big publishers know perfectly well that they’re on board a sinking ship, and they’re motivated to do everything they can to bully and browbeat writers into conforming to the big-publisher model of writing. That benefits the big publishers but it does not benefit authors. At this point, big-publisher contracts have gotten so predatory and the support given to authors and their works so minimal that bestselling authors are bailing out on the big firms and going into self-publishing or working with small presses, and making more money than they’d get from the big boys. So relax, have a beverage of your choice, and then sit down and get writing."

Don't let anyone say you don't know what you "need to know" to write fiction. Read what you like, figure why you like it, and write it. 'Nuff said.

Posted 2 Years Ago

lot of great lines in this write,i liked it

Posted 2 Years Ago

In general, since the approach to writing is still a narrator talking about things you visualize, without giving the reader context for what’s going on, the reader is still left in limbo wondering whats going on. Look at the opening lines as a reader:

• Somewhere, the sea waves sighed against the shore;

You’re trying for poetic. But could you get any more generic? The statement is like saying, “Mashed potatoes have no bones.” It’s true, but so what?

• a calming hush.

This is a sentence fragment. But again, it has no meaning for the reader because it’s generic, and unrelated to any action. In fact, the only on stage is you, and you’re not in the story.

• Like the sound of a sleeping child,

I’ve raised three kids and have four grandchildren, and not one of them sounded like the ocean. You’re trying for poetic. Instead, start the damn story before the reader, who has NOT come for poetry, gets bored and turns away. The goal isn’t to talk prettily.

• A terrifying howl clawed him back to life.

1. What’s a terrifying howl? An engine at redline can be said to howl. A wolf howls, at times, but it's not terrifying unless you believe it signifies an immediate threat. So you, already knowing the story have intent for who, what, and why. The reader doesn't. And why is someone or something, doing it on the beach?
2. How can a noise bring the dead to life?
3. Who in the pluperfect hells is “he?” And why was he dead?

What’s going on? The unknown “he” knows. The reader? We don’t know where we are, who we are, or what’s going on, so we have, and can have, zero context. But without context there can be no interest.

Sure, as you read it, knowing all that, you fill in the missing context as you read and it makes sense. But no one but you can do that. No one but you can hear any trace of emotion not put there by the punctuation. No one but you knows your intent for how the words are being taken. But what about the ones you write this for? Have the computer read this to you. Better yet, have a friend with no acting talent read it to you, to hear what the reader gets, and their reaction.

You’re trying to make the reading interesting through poetic lecturing. But in the end, it’s “This happened…then that happened…and after that…” Lots and lots of description of things he's ignoring. But if he is, who cares?

As E. L. Doctorow observed, “Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader. Not the fact that it’s raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.” You're talking about the rain.

If you describe things you see as being there, as an external observer, and talk ABOUT the character without ever making us know the situation as he does, why will we care about him? Things happen and he never once analyzes it and acts on it. He just reads your script and postures dramatically.

The short version: To write fiction you need to know the techniques of fiction. You expect the result of using those techniques in what you select to read, and others expect to see it in what you write. So your choice is to make use of them and make the reader care about the protagonist, or present a report written poetically. And to use those skills you first need to master them. So, a prescription:

Download a free copy of Dwight Swain’s, Techniques of the Selling Writer at the page I link to below. Then read it slowly, taking the time to think about and practice each point he brings up, to make it yours, rather than something to say, “Uh-huh,” then forgot you read it a day later. Master those techniques and your protagonist becomes your co-writer, whispering advice and warnings in your ear as you write—as will the others in the story, because everyone is the star of their own story, and will act on what matters to them, not you.

I know this is no better news than last time, but you did ask, it’s not a matter of talent of story, and, it’s what you need to know. So…

Posted 2 Years Ago

0 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I'm not a fan of animated films, so I'm not going to watch. But I like that you give the reader that option, along with an irresistible sell job. Your story is as well written as any professionally-published story of this genre, packed with dynamic descriptions & artistic expressions. For my taste, I feel this is a little "description-heavy" . . . I'm not into long passages that describe every step of the exploration . . . it makes the reading feel heavy & slow to me. For an action story, I like things to move along at a more peppy clip with fewer long flowing descriptive passages. I also feel that the abundance of long complex sentences bogs the pace down whereas more short declarative sentences, along with more dialogue, would make this feel more peppy & dynamic instead of a long-panning movie scene at every step of the journey. Toward the end, you TELL us that the lady is reading to the boy, but this could be SHOWN by including an actual passage of her reading. Especially later, when there are more than just 1 character, I feel this story cries out for more dialogue. This is how you show connectedness between characters. Your characters feel disconnected to me, without more interactions between them. This is just my preference. I realize that action films are what they are & you've captured it vividly, fully, & lots of people love their stories this way (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

Posted 2 Years Ago

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5 Reviews
Added on August 12, 2020
Last Updated on August 12, 2020
Tags: ghost, geist, tragedy, story, writing, sad, ghosts, supernatural, scary, spooky, memories, amnesia, family, love, death, life, sorrow, shortstory, reading, writerscafe, cgi, shortfilm, novel, poetry



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