Madame by Toni Stoop

Putting Off Writing – 01 Design Does Not Always Match Execution

Before going to GenCon and attending some of the events being presented by the writing conference there, I wrote a short story to present at one of the panels. I couldn’t find my original notes when I started writing so I winged it. I enjoyed the resulting story titled Charlotte.

Charlotte was a young French woman starving on the streets of nineteenth century Paris. She is led from the streets into the catacombs to serve as a maid for a pair of ghouls, but when she screams in fright at the sight of the monsters, she’s paralyzed, hung over a table, and bled dry. The story is written as a diary entry and suggests that despite being bled to death, she somehow goes on.

The previous 70-ish words were how I ended up executing the story which is wildly different from the following 5oo-ish words which are my outline notes for the original story I had in mind.

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Two rather well put and dandy ghouls are having diner and complaining about the state of their dining room. They lament about being unable to keep help, slowly revealing that the help never stays for very long. Except for Archibald the butler. Archibald might be able to clean the mess around the table, but then he would not be able to acquire more servants who always seem to arrive just in time for diner. And while they scream and thrash about, never cleaning up the mess they are hired to do, they do end up as the next tasty morsel – except that just adds to the piles of bones surrounding the diner table.

The story will start with two posh dandies discussing the issue of having a lack of servants. The keep refusing to do the job and have to be cut.

Vaguely describe the state of the room from the POV of the ghouls, not letting on that they are anything but extremely messy.

Comment that they are hungry, so very hungry. Vaguely suggest that they never leave the table.

The wife comments to the husband’s lace is stained with the blood of the raw meat. More so now that the juices of his last bite have seeped down his hands and to his sleeve.

The husband comments that his wife’s bosom is a mess of bits of viscera to which she looks down, delicately plucks a bit of something from just above the lace of her bodice and pops it into her mouth with a laugh.

Crying and pleading are heard. The noise gets louder. Archibald approaches with the newest recruit. She, it’s always a she, first thinks this beast of a man is going to rape her and maybe kill her too. Archibald takes her into the dining room and she screams.

The two dandy ghouls laugh and comment about her looks and squeamishness. She’s bolder than most though. Hopefully she will work out.

Somehow the girl manages to calm herself long enough to ask some questions. What is this place? It looks like a poorly run slaughterhouse. Are those human remains? She begins to lose it again. The husband warns her that she will have to be cut and her employment ended if she cannot perform her duties.

She asks if she can refuse employment, the ghouls admit that she may. So she refuses to serve them. The wife looks sad, but there’s also a gleam in her eye. She declares that if the girl will not work she will be cut, and she again says she will not work for them. The wife then says that the girl must be CUT. Both the husband and wife smile with mouths that are far too wide with far too many teeth. The girl is promptly struck in the head. Archibald loops a rope around her ankles, pulls on the rope (fixed to the ceiling through a ring), and raises the girl off the floor. The girl regains her senses and screams again.

What are you?! she demands just as Archibald grabs her hair in a massive fist. Then all she sees is the knife.

The wife says, “Hungry!”

OK if I have to be perfectly honest, my very original idea was a pair of dandy ghouls having diner when their manservant-ghoul brings in a woman for them to eat. So you can see that while the execution varies wildly from the outline, it ultimately does not vary too far from my original idea. This idea trills me somewhat. A single thought can generate two incredibly different ideas. And certainly that is not the absolute end as a multitude of different stories could be told from that first flash of images formed unbridled in my head mush. I’m very tempted to write the story presented in my original outline. Though I don’t think it would be nearly as dark as Charlotte eventually was, it would be really fun to write.

© 2014, Joseph K Little. All rights reserved.

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