June 3, 2010

Hear the Author number... um... seven!

Hard to believe we've already done six of these "read something and post it to your blog" thingies.  Originally demanded by Robin, this time we are inspired by our wonderful friend, Paca (that's DOCTOR Paca to you... well, to us all, I guess).

UPDATE:  Sylvia has put together a list of all of us playing this round.

My reading, in the podbean below.  I apologize for the crappy sound quality.  I blame the equipment available (a Rock Band USB microphone connected to my Mac mini) and an utter lack of understanding of how to work with sound on a computer.

And the full text of the story is below in case you want to read along.  This story did not win any awards in the contest, but I still like it.


Up here in the branches, the wind slithers under my coat and tightens around my arms. My breath freezes in my beard. This new rope scratches, but it warms my neck.

Wind whistles through the barn nearby, and ice breaks with thunderclaps on the river. Smoke escapes from the farmhouse chimney, disappearing into a gunmetal sky. As if from nowhere, one big crow flaps onto a close branch and stares me down with coal eyes and a black icicle beak.

Through cracking lips, I croak, “You never seen a man hang himself before?” My teeth chatter. I grasp the trunk to keep from slipping. “You come to stop me?”

“No.” The quiet voice visits my mind directly. The crow cocks its head to the side, its beak shut. The voice is Sarah’s. “I’ve come to witness.”

I glance to the ground, skin prickling. Sarah might be there, my shovel still buried in her naked chest, her blood staining the gray snow. Jefferson might stand next to her, headless. I whisper, “Begone, adultress witch,” and I shiver in every bone, right to my soul.

Sarah’s voice coos, “You will be warm enough, husband, when you join your brother in Hell. I bear no fault. He took me by force.”

“Begone!” I swat at the crow. My foot slips. I pitch forward and swing down in a slow arc, feel the rope cut my throat and freeze my breath. A gauzy haze drowns my vision, and the crow ascends through barren branches.


JaneyV said...

Oh Peter - I've missed your voice! I loved this piece in the CoN contest. You read it very well - nice and slow. I just love the poetic justice at the end. He has a chance to listen to the truth but he swats it away and that is his undoing. Wonderful.

The sound clarity is excellent too.

This is really cool and yet again I've forgotten all about it. I have no idea how to sort out an audio clip so I guess I'll have to do a video one instead! Now that I think about it I've forgotten how I did that last time too. Thanks for the reminder.

fairyhedgehog said...

This was great to listen to. I love how you read it and how you've got so much atmosphere and story going on all at once.

pacatrue said...

Hey, you're this excellent reader and everything, too! Accents even! Very, very nice.

Sylvia said...

I loved this when I first read it but wow, your reading is great! It really adds a whole new layer of chills to hear you read it.

PJD said...

Jane, how sweet! You've missed my voice? Aw shucks! I actually recorded it four times to try to get the volume up and the speed down.

Fairy HH, thank you! Are you playing this time? I do enjoy your voice so. I'll drop by to see later.

Paca, a high compliment indeed coming from Mr. Karaoke. (Sorry, DOCTOR Karaoke. :-) I'm not sure I did the accent that well. It's sort of a mixture of a few different ones, and I slip out of it here and there. But this ain't Broadway after all.

Sylvia, thank you! Chills is what I was going for, of course. I really enjoyed your excerpt, too.

Anonymous said...

OMG, Pete - that's a wicked awesome accent. NOW I remember why I made you my online crush!!

Robin B. said...

Pete, honey, your voice is gorgeous. It was weird hearing you do a kinda redneck guy, since you are so much the opposite, but you did it very well! I'm impressed, ( and that's saying something, given the number of redneck relatives I may have in my family tree!)

Wish we were back at O'Connell's, having a drink in Old Town...

PJD said...

Aerin, I am terribly disappointed that my voice is the only reason you crushed on me. Thanks anyway, though.

Robin, I would dearly love to join you in Old Town for another round. And thanks for the redneck compliment! I wondered what the real expert might think. I suspect you're just being overly nice, but I'll take it anyway. :-)

McKoala said...

I remember this one from CoN, too - loved it the first time, love it even more with your atmospheric reading. (Nothing's wrong with the sound!)

fairyhedgehog said...

I meant to be in but I'm a bit behind. I'll try and get something up today.

Stephen Parrish said...

You missed your calling. Ken Burns should have used you in his Civil War video.

Great piece, great reading.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Excellent reading, Pete! And "atmospheric" is a great description of this piece. *shiver*

PJD said...

Dear Clawed One: Thank you! Glad the sound was good. I actually tried reading my last three CoN entries, and this one felt best.

FHH, so glad you participated! leaguette, le Eiffel tower, le guillotine.

Stephen, you are master at the art of flattery, I see. Although I've not watched a single frame of Burns' Civil War, I did get to hear him speak once at a conference. Smart, smart man. Didn't get to meet him personally, though.

Phoenix, "shiver" is what I was going for. :-) Thanks for the compliments!

Precie said...

Excellent characterization. Concrete and chilling.

Gia's Spot said...

I did not listen, but I read! Wonderful!

Unknown said...

Hi there!

Shortstorybook.net is organizing a short story writing contest.

We do think that you too might have a marvelous story to tell, one that is your own! So if you can compose it in not more than few words, we would want to hear from you. Also, you stand a chance to get your story published on our site and win cash prize of USD 100.

“Then what are you waiting for? …put on your thinking cap and get writing. For registration and other information check - http://bit.ly/short-story-contest-2010

Happy writing!