Age Range: 12 and up
Approx. Length: 8,365 Words
The dark harrowing tale of a young woman who must assume her mother’s role of Gatekeeper.
A crippled woman’s life changes over decades of inhabiting and guarding tainted soil where her only refuge has been the branches of a tall pine tree. Her father had a bad temper and turned into a monster. Mom did her best but couldn’t spare her daughter from a terrible Fate: a legacy of sacrifice and despair; the duty to ward off Evil. This horror story by Lori R. Lopez is narrated in the grim voice of a survivor. It is an account of madness and misery, of stark terror and bleak acceptance.
This short story is currently being enhanced for a new E-Book version!
Eventually sound filtered past terror. The sink across the hall dripped, a muffled metronome, marking the anxious beat of my heart.
Wood creaked. Was it the stairs? The corridor outside my room?
~ from Beyond The Stump
Much older, I understand what Mother always noted: “You live on the edge, you walk a thin line.”
Between starvation and survival. Illness and health. Insanity and reason.
~ from Beyond The Stump
THE TREE’S DEMISE never shook the earth or split the air. Its end would mark a nightmare’s dawn: that minute when initial rays of hopeful light appear over the horizon.
Yet then was not the singular brush with evil, as this pillar of pine had saved my neck ages prior to a lowly gravestone finish. Like me it now abides a meager stump, a life disrupted by external forces greater than the strength within to neither bend nor be reduced in stature. This will, this indomitable trust we shared, could not weather and resist a fateful third encounter — tragically much fiercer than the first.
But it is our prefatory clash, the earliest calamity which I should relate in sequence, if order is indeed a timeline not a cycle, not a spinning repetition, before the gruesomest events . . .
You may regard my syllables abstract, my tenor dreary and macabre.
So bequeaths the enigma I embosom, the profound absence of every glimmer, of the slightest twinkle or shine. My thoughts ramble in vague occult riddles because I have no comforting or concrete solutions to supply.
Most people I’ve observed while walking on two limbs exist in a fantasy realm composed of past and future.
They view little of the world around them, always focused somewhere else, ignoring what is there though scarcely noticed. The ordinary details.
I cling to those details, endeavoring to not look back or think ahead, for the present is all I have. All I can endure.
“Social Services have alot to answer for. Lori manages to single out your emotion nerve and then wring it for all its worth in this murdersome tale… is it ok to empathise with the “bad” guy?”
THE FLUFFY RED FOX REVIEWS; Amazon U.K. Review
“There is a dark, gothic undertone that feeds the reader with images of grainy black-and-white horror classics. This is an ideal candidate for a screenplay, provided it is done sans color. The Tree as the central figure is powerfully symbolic and used with storytelling expertise that would make Mary Shelly proud. It is a piece of horror-lit you can hand to your snobby friends who tell you comedies should not be nominated for Academy Awards as they sip from a ten dollar bottle of water and nibble on a cheese with a name you can’t begin to pronounce.”
(From a review for CHOCOLATE-COVERED EYES)
MAY-DECEMBER PUBLICATIONS; Smashwords and Amazon Reviews
“BEYOND THE STUMP resonated with me. Haven’t we all, at one time or another, felt we had a greater purpose in life?”
(From a review of CHOCOLATE-COVERED EYES)
“[Beyond The Stump] combines various perspectives in a magic realism approach. The narrator describes it as, “Most people I’ve observed while walking on two limbs exist in a fantasy realm composed of past and future. They view little of the world around them, always focused somewhere else, ignoring what is there though scarcely noticed. The ordinary details. I cling to those details, endeavoring to not look back or ahead, for the present is all I have. All I can endure.” We think back to the ghosts of Marquez in the city of Macondo where past and present and future are trapped in the family curse. The narrator of Stump hangs in a similar time trap, between madness and reality, striding social strata. We forget how we saw the world from the height of our childhood. Lopez reminds us of this point of view with horrific results.”