Flash Fiction: Candy Apple Red

She always wore candy apple red lipstick. Ethan never knew why, but every time she came in, those candy apple red lips stood out against her pale skin. She didn’t wear any other makeup.

 

Ethan sipped at his bourbon and coke, looking at her across the bar. He hoped she noticed him, without noticing him looking at her. He’d been coming here after work every day for three months. Three months of wistful glances and cheap booze for a pair of red lips that didn’t know he existed.

 

Her eyes drifted over to him. Ethan immediately looked at his wrist, hoping that she couldn’t tell he didn’t have a watch on.

 

An hour, and two bourbons and cokes later she slipped away from the bar and walked out to the street. Ethan noticed that her high heels were the same candy apple red as her lipstick.

 

Ethan gave himself a couple of minutes before following her outdoors. The doorway was wreathed in blue-grey cigarette smoke. He bent at the shoulders as he coughed. Ethan stood up, straightened his tie and muttered a prayer to himself. He let out the breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding and walked over to her. She was leaning in the doorway of the sushi restaurant over the road and talking on a cell phone.

 

“No, Rick,” she said in a surprisingly deep voice, “I said 10:30 TONIGHT. It’s been two damn weeks, you had plenty of time to make arrangements,” she said.

 

Ethan caught himself smiling and tried to bury it before she could spot him eavesdropping on her. He strode forward, and gave her a nod of familiarity as he walked past. He pushed on the door of the restaurant as if to go in. Unfortunately, the door was locked as the place was closed.

 

She laughed. “You’re going to have to get your California roll somewhere else,” she said. Her voice was just loud enough for Ethan to hear.

 

“I guess so,” he said.

 

“Let’s cut the bullshit. I’ve seen you watching me for a while now. I don’t know why you haven’t at least come over to say ‘hi’ or anything,” she said

 

“Well, I – “

 

“I promise you I don’t bite. Often.”

 

“That’s handy to know. I don’t think I ever caught your name?” Ethan said.

 

“I never said it. I’m Jacqueline. Jackie to my friends.”

 

“Which do I get to use?

 

“Jacqueline. Definitely Jacqueline.”

 

“Do you want to go for coffee sometime? Or sushi?”

 

“Sure. If you’re buying, I might let you call me Jackie by the end of the meal. Give me a call.” Jacqueline gave Ethan her phone number. He returned the favor.

 

 

The next night, Ethan slunk to the bar again. He looked around for Jacqueline and her candy apple red lips. She wasn’t there. Ethan slid into a darkened corner booth and dialed her number.

 

Immediately, something exploded in the parking lot. Running outside, he saw a Volkswagen Beetle burning. It was candy apple red.

The inspiration for this piece of 500-word Flash Fiction was a prompt I found online (I forget the site, or I would link it) that read “Candy Apple Red.” A It’s a first draft, but feedback and comments are always welcomed.

“Lips” photograph from Laura Tulaite

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Ashes to Ashes

I’m not typically someone who is affected by celebrity deaths. After all, the passing of someone who I have most likely never met, and wouldn’t be aware of my existence isn’t really something I find worth dwelling on.

But there are two very big exceptions to that rule, and it surprised me that they hit me so hard. The first exception was Sir Terry Pratchett, whose death in March 2015 after a multi-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Pratchett was (indeed, still is) my favorite author and I’ve enjoyed the Discworld series of comic fantasy novels since a friend recommended The Colour of Magic (I was still living in England back then, so the title did have that extra ‘u’ in ‘Colour’) to me in 1993.

Now, twenty-three years later, there is one last entry in the series that I haven’t read. The forty-first Discworld novel, The Shepherd’s Crown awaits me. In some ways, I don’t want to read it because then it really will mean that there won’t be any more output from Pratchett to read. I think that’s why I decided to re-read the entire series again from scratch. If you follow me on Goodreads, you’ll see that I’ve gotten a good way through the series on this re-read. I’m both looking forward and not looking forward to the end of the series.

The other celebrity death that really affected me is that of David Bowie. As of this writing I’ve known that Bowie is no longer among the living for eighteen hours, and it still doesn’t quite have the sense of reality. When it comes to favorite things, my answers for favorite book, favorite song, favorite movie or favorite food vary depending on my moods, but s far as I can remember, I’ve always only ever had one answer to “Who is your favorite singer?” Bowie.

I’ not going to claim that I have some kind of ineffable, ephemeral connection to his music or that I associate seminal moments or compelling memories of my life with Bowie’s music. In fact, most of the seismic events in my personal life (two marriages, the birth of my son, moving to the US) and in the world in general (the death of Princess Diana, the 9/11 attack) are associated with quite banal music that has become elevated by association with those moments. It’s the only reason that I unabashedly enjoy Avril Lavigne’s Complicated (and I’m guessing this blog is the only place that song will ever be associated with David Bowie ever.)

Bowie’s music was different. It is different, it didn’t need personal associations to elevate it to greatness. It achieved that all on it’s own (with the possible exception of The Laughing Gnome) The omnipresence of the tributes to Bowie online show the sheer breadth of the man’s body of work. I’ve heard snippets and songs from just about every album from 1967’s David Bowie to last Friday’s Black Star and it’s impossible to narrow any of it down to choose a favorite song. Heck, it’s such a strong discography I don’t think I’ve heard two people pick the same Bowie album as their favorite. For the record, my pick is Lodger,  the last of the Berlin trilogy. But even that is subject to change.

And beyond the music, Bowie was a damned good actor. The range that can encompass the haunted Major Jack Celliers of Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence to the gleeful malevolence of Jareth, the Goblin King in Labyrinth and so many roles in between shows that it was more than just the novelty take of a musician turned actor.

I’m also amazed that the internet, noted home of trolls, malingerers and assholes galore doesn’t seem to have a bad word to say about David Bowie. There’s none of the toxic vehemence and disagreements that have characterized reactions to so many news events and deaths. It’s weird and also somehow life-affirming to see the outpourings of so many strangers united in their unabashed love for the musical output of David Bowie.

There are o words here that can really pay tribute to him any better than the literally thousands of other sites and posts that are doing so, so if you feel inclined check those out. For me, I’m going to pay tribute by appreciating the man’s work one more time. It doesn’t even matter which album or song that plays when I hit “shuffle,” it’s Bowie. It will be great.

For the record it was the title track on Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps.)

Flash Fiction: Shreds of Doubt

For months now, the world stank of piss and putrefying flesh. The constant drum-roll of German shell impacts drowned out the buzzing of a billion angry flies. But what really bothered Private Liam Jenkins was the omnipresent mud. The filthy stuff coated everything and you never truly got clean. At the rate things were going, he’d still be breathing this foul mud by the year 2000.

He hoped that he would escape out of this Belgian shit-hole by then. A hubbub of activity among the non-commissioned officers sure made it seem like they had heard something from the brass. He assumed that old Haig had given the order to go over the top and hoped to God that the Hun’s machine guns would make Jenkins’ inevitable death come quick.

Not like Thompson, whose death seemed to stretch on for hours. The only reason he knew it wasn’t days was because the sun never set. Jenkins ended the man’s burbling screams of agony with a bullet to his throat. He could still the body entangled in the barbed wire.

He could remember when enlisting seemed like a good idea, back when a young woman handed him a white feather. She branded him a coward for not “fighting for King and country.” What the King wanted with this rain-soaked bog of shit, mud and corpses eluded Jenkins. Still, the Kaiser obviously gave it some importance, so Jenkins and the rest of his unit tried to take it back inch by painful inch.

By the flurry of activity, Jenkins assumed the unit were about to fight for another inch. He wiped the grime off his wedding ring and kissed it. He doubted he’d see his Lizzy again. Three men either side of him knelt in prayer. It’s true, Jenkins thought, there really are no atheists in foxholes. Jenkins didn’t know what he believed about God, but he damn sure believed in Hell. He’d lived in it since the mid February.

Two minutes later, as the setting sun bathed the mud-choked battlefield in an ugly crimson hue, Jenkins finished answering nature’s call and pulled the duckboards away. As he clambered out of the trench, his foot stomped down on gristle and bone of a severed arm. A fading stripe on the sleeve suggested the arm had once belonged to a corporal. Jenkins kicked it away as he crept on to the battlefield, his rifle at the ready.

He felt the shock wave of what he fervently hoped was the last artillery shell launched at the German lines seconds before he heard the roar of impact. Maybe it would kill a few of the enemy, or better yet, flatten some of the infernal barbed wire. Jenkins slithered forward on his stomach, trying not to think about the staccato bullets of the enemy machine guns as he advanced. Then came pain and blood as his earlobe ripped away.

Unable to go on, Jenkins stood up and bolted back past his own lines as bullets zipped all around.

The inspiration for this piece of 500-word Flash Fiction was a prompt I found online (I forget the site, or I would link it) that read “shreds of doubt.” It’s a first draft, but feedback and comments are always welcomed.

“1st World War Statue” photograph from FreeImages.com/David Walsh

Flash Fiction: Why Didn’t it Happen to me?

The mud stained Sandra’s fingernails as she scratched at the rain-soaked ground. The soft earth gave way to her frenzied digging until she banged her fingers against the ash wood box. Her tears mingled with the raindrops beating against the box lid. Sandra pulled the box against her, leaving an ugly brown stain on her dark blue dress. She headed inside, prising the battered lid off the box on her way.

 

Sandra curled up on her battered leather sofa and spread the contents of the box on her coffee table. Two moldering photographs, a pair of friendship bracelets and a rough grey stone with “Caitlin + Sandra 4ever” scrawled on it crudely in white chalk. Sandra gripped the stone tightly, feeling its coarseness against her palm. She found the grittiness against her skin oddly comforting. She raised her eyes heavenward and began to whisper.

 

“Will you remember me when I see you again? I know I could never forget you. I tried for a while.” Sandra took a deep breath and picked up the first photograph.

 

She turned it over and looked at the back of the yellowing print. The words “Dewey Beach vacation, June 12, 1983” were scribbled on the back in felt tip pen. Had it really been that long? Sandra wondered. It felt like yesterday. She turned the photograph around and looked at the picture of the two of them. In her mind they had been children, looking towards Mom’s old Kodak camera and flashing matching gap-toothed smiles. The girls in the picture looked older, almost in their teens and something about Caitlin’s eyes made her look ineffably older. Those eyes looked as world-weary as Sandra felt, sitting their holding a memory three decades old.

The other photograph lay face down on the table. Sandra couldn’t bring herself to look at that one yet. Instead, she picked up the braided friendship bracelets with their red, white and blue almost painfully bright in the dark, storm-lit room. She inhaled them and just for a moment she could smell that distant summer again. The salt air, the artificial sweetness of cotton candy and the coconut smell of Caitlin’s suntan lotion. For a moment, the years disappeared and Sandra became the devil-may-care child in the photograph again. Her sigh broke the illusion and brought her back to the here and now, with rain beating a grim tattoo against her windows.

“We were supposed to last forever,” she said. The room swallowed the words into oppressive silence. Steeling herself, Sandra turned over the second photograph. This one didn’t have anything written on it, instead the date was printed on the photo in impersonal sans serif type. “06 January, 2003.” The black and white photograph only pictured Caitlin, those same ineffable eyes stared lifelessly at the Medical Examiner’s camera, framing the bloody opening of Caitlin’s fatal wound.

“We were supposed to last forever.” Sandra murmured, closing her eyes.

Sandra still gripped the second photograph tight three days later when her sons found her body on the couch.

 

The inspiration for this piece of 500-word Flash Fiction was a prompt I found online (I forget the site, or I would link it) that read “why didn’t it happen to me?” Apparently, I was feeling rather maudlin in my interpretation of it. It’s a first draft, but feedback and comments are always welcomed.

“Rain Cloud” photograph from Freeimages.com/weliton slima.

2016: Resolutions

As I type, it’s still (just barely) the first weekday of 2016. And, as with so many other things about the start of a New Year, it’s all about looking forwards, rather than backwards. That said, 2015 was a pretty big year for me, as I got married. I also got a new employer.

Instead of dwelling on that, I’ve decided to set myself some goals for 2016 just like I did two years ago. These goals ae less self-improvement focused as I’m in a  much better mental space than I was back then. Let’s look at those goals and a little bit of the whys & wherefores of them:

New Diet

This is on of the few self-improvement goals I have for this year. I have made a start on improving this. The biggest flaw in my diet is that I still eat out too much. This is something I want to fix for a few reasons. The biggest is that cooking together became something of a couples highlight/activity between my wife and I, to the point that we would blog about it. This fell by the wayside this summer as we were distracted by our wedding, participating in GIshWHes, various travel commitments and then the holidays.

New Weight.

I mentioned this in my 2014 goals, but I’m still not happy with my weight. I have been carefully calorie counting and taking advantage of the gym in the basement of the apartment building for much of 2015, and it has paid off. At the start of 2015 I was around 270lbs and had gotten down to 220lbs. However, based on relaxing the diet over Thanksgiving, various holiday parties at work, and New Year, I’d assume I was at least 230lbs as of this writing. My goal was 200lbs before, so that’s still what I’m aiming for, though if I lose more, I won’t exactly be complaining.

Communicate Better

I’m horrible about keeping in touch with people, and I need to work on this 2016. I want to reach out to my son more often than I do, because he’s awesome. I also want to make more effort to contact my mother, father and sister.

Blog More

I enjoy writing entries on this blog, and I don’t do it enough to be worth following. My goal for 2016 is to blog at least once a week. Hopefully even more frequently than that, as I want to make serious headway in my Supernatural blogwatch project as I have eight seasons to get through.

Read More

Pretty self-explanatory. I enjoy reading, and have used the Goodreads app to set myself reading challenges. In 2014, my target was 50 books, which I exceeded. In 2015, my target was 55 books, which I just met. In 2016, my target is 60 books. I’m currently reading my way through the Discworld series in honor of Terry Pratchett’s death and am up to Monstrous Regiment the 31st of the 41-novel series.

Write More

This is something I did poorly at in 2015. For the first time, I failed to complete my  National Novel Writing Month project, and I didn’t get much written even outside of that, aside from some brief flash fiction. I think the solution to this is more discipline, so I’m setting myself the target of writing 500 words every week day throughout 2016. Some of those will likely appear on this blog, but many won’t. The reason I say every weekday rather than just every day is so that I can reserve the weekends to catch up if I miss a weekday. Hopefully that won’t happen often (and I’m cheating today be counting this blog entry as my 500 words…)

Game More

This is more of an enjoyment thing for me. I’m generally not a video gamer, but I do enjoy playing the occasional game. I saw something called the #12in12 challenge on Twitter. The goal is to finish 12 games in 12 months. Since I’m a long, long way behind the times on modern games, my twelve will probably be somewhat retro. I’m starting with the first Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic game, as I enjoy RPGs and, well, Star Wars has had something of a media saturation lately and it worked on me.

So, those are my resolutions for 2016, what are yours, dear readers?

Lost Limey Watches Supernatural #60 – “No Rest for the Wicked”

A quick note by way of introduction may be required here. For quite some time now, certain members of the Richmond WriMos have been trying to persuade me to watch the CW show Supernatural. I  have relented and am now embarking on watching Supernatural via the wonders of Netflix. This series of posts will simply be my first impressions, almost stream of consciousness style, presented in the form of the time elapsed in the episode and my thoughts expressed as bullet points. It’s effectively live tweeting the episodes except I don’t have to stick to 140 characters or fewer. So without further ado here’s my take on:

Season 3 Episode 16 – “No Rest for the Wicked”

  • 00:04 – The previouslies, as is tradition get the “Carry On Wayward Son” and “The Road So Far” treatment. It also encapsulates the entire season thus far.
  • 01:08 – Still in the previouslies, we get a bigger focus on hellhounds than I thought. I worry things are really not going to go to well for Dean this episode.
  • 01:51 – We open on the “Now” section of the episode with Dean running through the woods being pursued by something. Presumably a hellhound of some kind. Per the closed captioning, we are hearing: “[OMINOUS MUSIC PLAYING],” which given the show’s love of classic rock feels like a missed opportunity to use “Run Through The Jungle.
  • 02:27 – To the surprise of no one, Dean’s jungle run was all a dream.
  • 02:53 – Sam comes in to check on his brother and provide the information that good old Bobby has discovered a way to track down Lilith (who, as you’ll recall from last episode, the demon who holds the contract on Dean’s soul), with a mere 30 hours to spare.
  • 03:10 – Dean suggests running for the border, including the phrase “What’s Spanish for ‘Donkey Show?'” Sam responds: “If we do save you, let’s never do that.” According to high lord Google, the answer to Dean’s question is “espectáculo de burro.”
  • 03:50 – As our old friend “[OMINOUS MUSIC PLAYS]” Sam’s head does a tribute to Linda Blair in The Exorcist and starts to spin right round, like a record baby, right round as well as getting demonic visages almost as terrible as his hair. I’m assuming Dean is hallucinating again.
  • 04:19 – Bobby’s demon locating device looks like some of 18th century naval navigation device. The sextant to hell, as it were.
  • 04:34 – Lilith’s apparently in New Harmony, Indiana.
  • 04:56 – Dean’s less sure on the Lilith angle, seeing how the source was Bela who wasn’t exactly Miss Honesty 2008. Also, they don’t have a way to deal with Lilith who wants “[Sam’s] giant head on a pike.” I assume they mean pike in the pointy stick sense, but I have a mental image of the fish with Jared Padalecki’s head and it’s far too enjoyable to let go of.
  • 05:23 – Sam is done arguing with Dean and wants to summon Ruby, both to confirm that it is Lilith they want, and because Ruby’s Knife of Demon Stabbiness might be their best chance.
  • 06:01 – Dean still vetoes the Ruby option.
  • 06:44 – Looks like Sam’s performing a summoning ritual anyway. Good job that this is a family that gets on super well and has no secrets from each other at any time, isn’t it?
  • 07:37 – And Ruby hath indeed been summoned.
  • 08:05 – Ruby basically admits that she knew that Lilith held Dean’s contract, but she neglected to reveal that rather useful piece of exposition as the brothers Winchester would have attempted to attack Lilith unprepared and been two greasy blood smears on the ground, one of which would have terrible hair. also a big difference between Katie Cassidy’s performance as Ruby compared to Laurel in Arrow is that back in 2008, her face was still capable of motion.
  • 09:19 – Ruby refuses to give up the Knife of Demon Stabbiness, instead claiming that Sam’s psychic powers are the key to defeating Lilith. You know, those psychic powers that haven’t been a thing since Ol’ Yellow Eyes died. Sam ain’t buying it.
  • 10:13 – The self-admitted manipulative demon bitch Ruby claims she’s never lied to Sam. I find that on the implausible side of things.
  • 10:35 – Dean walks in on the conversation between Sam and Ruby (whom he delightfully refers to as a “slutty little Yoda”) as he knew his little brother would ignore him and summon Ruby anyway.
  • 11:21 – Ruby calls Dean a “dumb, spineless dick.” In fairness, most dicks are spineless (“boner,” after all is something of a misnomer.)
  • 11:40 – The show goes all Itchy & Scratchy as Ruby, Sam & Dean fight and fight and fight.
  • 12:41 – Dean used the fightiness to pickpocket Ruby’s Knife of Demon Stabbiness, and has kept Ruby inside a ceiling painted Devil’s Trap. Turns out that the spineless dick isn’t that dumb. The boys abandon Ruby to go hunt. She doesn’t take it as magnanimously as you might expect.
  • 13:56 – Sam is less than enthusiastic about the plan of poking Lilith with a pointy stick, since last time she was able to sic a demon army on them. He wants to consider the psychic power option. Dean calls making deals with demons whenever one of them is in danger is a family flaw, and uses Daddy Winchester’s deal, plus his own deal as examples and doesn’t want Sam making the same mistake.
  • 15:01 – Dean acknowledges that the fact that the Winchester’s are family and will do anything for each other is a weakness that their foes can and will exploit.
  • 15:21 – Dean: “If we go down, then we go down swinging.” I feel like that’s been the undercurrent of much of his death wish behavior this season.
  • 16:51 – Apparently “shore leave” for Lilith means psychologically torturing the family of the child that is her host body, including killing at least one of them (the grandmother, I would guess.)
  • 17:14 – Also killed by Lilith “Freckles,” which I presume was a family pet and which now contains one heck of a lot less blood than it used to, if Lilith’s dress is any guide.
  • 18:21 – Not a grandmother at 16:51, but a “mean old babysitter,” per Lilith’s description, which I shall take with a grain of salt or thirty.
  • 18:50 – Bobby sabotaged the Impala so that the boy couldn’t go off half cocked, as he doesn’t consider himself a “ditchable prom date.” In other news, Bobby’s freaking awesome.
  • 19:19 – Bobby asks Dean how many hallucinations he’s had, as that’s apparently a side effect of hellhounds.
  • 20:11 – Sam wants to do the whole farewell speech thing. Dean says no, as he doesn’t want his potential last living day to be “socially awkward.”
  • 20:37 – Apparently car karaoke to “Wanted Dead or Alive” doesn’t count as “socially awkward.”
  • 21:44 – The boys are getting pulled over for a busted tail light.
  • 22:14 – Dean (or “Mr. Hagar”) reacts in a calm and rational manner by killing the cop, apparently unprovoked with Ruby’s knife.
  • 22:42 – It seems that Dean is close enough to Hell that he can now see demon’s true faces. Which is why the cop got stabbed, for, lo, he was demon possessed.
  • 23:08 – Dean has five hours left.
  • 24:51 – Lilith killing off her host family again. This time it’s Grandpa’s neck that gets the hempless hemp fandango.
  • 25:19 – Per Dean, who’s looking through the windows Lilith’s true face is even uglier than her behavior.
  • 26:24 – I like the twistedness of Lilith’s preferred bed time story to be all about blood sacrifices.
  • 26:49 – Demonic mailman just took a Knife of Demon Stabbiness to the gut, care of Sam Winchester.
  • 27:11 – Same for neighbor demon.
  • 27:38 – A suddenly appearing Ruby slams Dean against a fence and demands her knife. Sam points out that Dean doesn’t have the knife. Sam reinforces that point by producing said bloody knife.
  • 28:26 – The argument between Sam and Ruby has drawn the attention of all of Lilith’s various demonic bodyguards. Things aren’t going too well for our heroes.
  • 28:42 – Bobby creates a safe perimeter by the rather ingenious method of blessing the waters of a well and then feeding the newly holy water through the neighborhood’s sprinkler systems. How delightfully devious.
  • 29:23 – Ruby, Sam and Dean are in the house and come across the father, who presumably isn’t a demon, as Dean doesn’t immediately attack him.
  • 29:50 – Dean still punches out the father, mostly for his own good.
  • 31:28 – Sam, knife in hand sees Lilith curled up on the bed with her host body’s mother. He hesitates rather than stabbing, despite the mother begging him to do it.
  • 31:43 – Dean stops Sam, as he can see that Lilith is no longer possessing the little girl’s body. So where is she?
  • 32:35 – A desperate Sam starts hectoring Ruby about what he’d have to do to use his psychic powers to take out Lilith. Ruby seemed confused momentarily before rallying and seeing that it’s too late for that. The hesitation makes me wonder if Lilith has possessed Ruby. Can a demon possess a body that already has a demonic occupant? After all, it feels like Lilith would be a lot more powerful than Ruby…
  • 32:54 – Dean won’t let Sam try to use his psychic abilities saying “it’s not gonna save me, it’s only gonna kill you.”
  • 33:15 – Dean’s advice to Sam: ‘Keep fighting. And take care of my wheels.”
  • 33:26 – The clock is chiming midnight. Dean has mere moments left.
  • 34:08 – Dean (and only Dean) can see the hellhound coming for him.
  • 34:32 – They barricade themselves agains the hellhound, using one of the hoodoo things they learned from the first encounter with a Crossroads demon to keep the hound at bay.
  • 34:53 – Dean sees that Ruby isn’t Ruby, thus confirming my hypothesis from 32:35 that Lilith body-jacked her.
  • 35:48 – Lilith has Sam pinned against the wall and kisses him in the creepiest manner imaginable.
  • 36:10 – Dean tries to get Lilith’s plan from her. She dismisses him as “puppy chow” and doesn’t deign to answer.
  • 36:25 – Lilith lets the hellhound in, and it attacks Dean, tearing him apart. Dean is dead.
  • 36:57 – Lilith directs her white killing light at Sam
  • 37:17 – Sam is unharmed by the killing light and stalks toward Lilith. Sammy is really angry now.
  • 37:40 – Sam goes to finish off Lilith with the Knife of Demon Stabbiness. Before he can do so, Lilith exits Ruby’s body in the usual gruesome cloud of black smoke fashion. Ruby’s body drops, dead, to the floor alongside Dean’s.
  • 38:04 – A crying Sam cradles Dean’s dead body in his arms.
  • 38:44 – We see Dean chained up in Hell screaming for somebody to help him.
  • 38:50 – Dean in Hell yells Sam’s name and we cut to the credits. End of the episode, and of the season.

 

Wow. Just wow. That’s one heck of  season finale. Plus Dean’s tortured bleeding face in Hell screaming Sam’s name is an amazing shot to finish on. This was great episode, even though not a whole lot technically happened for most of it, and even the ticking clock that represented Dean’s remaining time on this mortal coil didn’t do a whole lot to build the tension. I’d argue that they probably should have referenced the time left a little more often. Even without that though, the combination of Eric Kripke’s writing and Kim Manners’ direction helped ratchet up the stakes and it did leave an uneasy feeling with this viewer of first “how are they going to get out of this?” And as more and more of the episode passed the question became “Are they going to get out of this?” After all, this is a show that has killed its main characters before, and ended the first season finale with the demons victorious and all three Winchesters apparently mortally wounded.

This is the second season finale that’s left the apparent demonic big bad at large (Lilith here, Ol’ Yellow Eyes in season one), and therefore could arguably be seen as a defeat for the brothers. Of course, this episode opens up a whole raft of questions, aside from the most obvious one of “How will they get Dean out of Hell?” We have the issues of “Where’s Ruby?”, “Where’s Lilith?”, “What is Lilith’s plan? Does she have plans for Sam and/or Dean?” Slightly less demonic in nature, i’m really curious to see how Sam handles life without his big brother, as we’ve already seen him go to a super dark place without Dean in the Trickster’s reality earlier this season. Will he go that way again?

I have to assume that the powers that be knew Supernatural was going to be renewed for a fourth season, or they don’t pull off that kind of an ending. I’m definitely looking forward to season four to see how they answer all my questions. I’m also aware that season four features the debut of Misha Collins as a character that a lot of people have assured me I will like before I tell them that I’m on my first watch through and am trying not to get spoiled. I would hope to get season four written up faster than i did season three, but we all know how unlikely that is.

Lost Limey Watches Supernatural #59 – “Time is on My Side”

A quick note by way of introduction may be required here. For quite some time now, certain members of the Richmond WriMos have been trying to persuade me to watch the CW show Supernatural. I  have relented and am now embarking on watching Supernatural via the wonders of Netflix. This series of posts will simply be my first impressions, almost stream of consciousness style, presented in the form of the time elapsed in the episode and my thoughts expressed as bullet points. It’s effectively live tweeting the episodes except I don’t have to stick to 140 characters or fewer. So without further ado here’s my take on:

Season 3 Episode 15 – “Time is on My Side”

  • 00:56 – Unsurprisingly, as we barrel through towards the end of the season, our previouslies montage covers a lot of ground, most notably Dean’s demon deal, Lilith, Ruby (who I tend to think of as Black Canary, but that’s what three seasons of Arrow does to you) and Bela.
  • 01:26 – Our teaser opens with two plastic surgeons, doing what fictional plastic surgeons do best – being total douchebags. I’m okay with one or both being the Inevitable Teaser Death.
  • 02:00 – Douchebag Surgeon #1 just got bundled into the trunk of his car by a mysterious black clad figure.
  • 02:42 – Our surgeon appears to be now wandering through hospital corridors wearing a black robe that’s clearly too short for him (seriously, if there was an iota less fabric, his testicles would be on display for all to see), that’s the least of his worries as he’s bleeding from a wound that we don’t see but is gnarly enough to make the nurse freak out.
  • 03:13 – Our heroic leads are torturing somebody for information. I assume it’s either a demon or vampire, as the torture is splashing him with (assumed holy) water, which isn’t quite what water boarding is, and is essentially an annoyance for those of us of a less supernatural nature.
  • 03:24 – It’s obvious to me that Lilith is going to be the contract holder, because that’s how TV works. Kinda surprised the brothers Winchester haven’t figured that much out themselves.
  • 04:57 – Demon is exorcized offscreen because he wasn’t important.
  • 05:37 – Teaser surgeon was the Inevitable Teaser Death, suffering from an acute case of Liver-torn-out-itis. that can be a real bitch.
  • 05:43 – The tearer apparently died in 1981 per fingerprint records.
  • 05:57 – Dean suspects zombies, and is surprised Sam is taking a break from soul saving attempts to go on a hunt. He approves though.
  • 07:13 – Liver was actually surgically removed, not ripped out. Not sure if that’s scarier or not.
  • 07:35 – Dean describes their target as “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Zombie,” which gives me some very disturbing mental images of Jane Seymour.
  • 08:05 – The brothers are interviewing a guy who had his kidney stolen, and woke up in the urban legend cliche of a bathtub full of ice.
  • 10:09 – Sam and Dean do the exposition conversation thing about an organ-stealing, possibly immortal Doctor Benton who Daddy Winchester had once hunted down and taken the heart out of. Apparently such impromptu cardiac surgery didn’t take. I’m more distracted by the burger Dean’s trying to eat as it actually looks like the ones in the pictures on fast food menus.
  •  12:07 – Doctor Benton doesn’t seem to believe in anesthetic, as he starts his scalpeling on a runner while the dude is conscious. It looks like he’s taking a heart though, so I guess niceties aren’t necessary. Benton has surprisingly civil bedside manner for a dude with a stitched together face.
  • 13:50 – Bobby gets in touch with the boys to let them now that he’s tracked down the ever-loathsome Bela. Dean immediately wants to follow up on that lead. Sam seems less keen, which strikes me as odd. I assume the terrible-haired one is up to something.
  • 14:15 – Yep. Sounds like Sam has been thinking like a lawyer. He wants to steal Benton’s immortality idea for Dean. I guess the logic is that if Dean can’t die, then his soul gets to stay out of hell.
  • 14:56 – Dean points out the minor detail that if Dean backs out of the deal (which immortality kind of does) than Sam dies. Which kind of defeats the point of Dean having made the deal in the first place.
  • 15:45 – Looks like the boys are splitting up, which never backfires, just ask Fred Jones or Velma Dinkley.
  • 16:34 – We follow Dean meeting with Bobby’s old hunter/hermit “friend.” Who’s more than a little paranoid.
  • 18:03 – Paranoid hunter, who’s name is Rufus, but has now been dubbed “Black Burt Reynolds” by my viewing companion is much more amenable to a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue.
  • 19:27 – Black Burt Reynolds knows stuff, and has a somewhat nihilistic viewpoint on what the end is for hunters, basically they “ain’t got no happy endings” (Insert your own massage parlor joe here.)
  • 20:14 – Sam’s in a rental car and is hunting for Doctor Benton in some brightly lit woods.
  • 21:10 – Black Burt warns Dean not to underestimate what Bela’s capable of.
  • 22:12 – Apparently, according to Black Burt, ears are as unique as fingerprints, and thus can be used to gather some intel on Bela…
  • 22:43 – Judging by his brow work, Dean is kind of shocked by the Bela dossier he just got handed.
  • 22:55 – Sam goes into a creepy isolated cabin in the woods, which never ever goes badly…
  • 24:00 – He’s found the now heartless runner guy in the creepier basement of the creepy cabin in the creepy woods. Basically, stuff’s creepy is what I’m saying.
  •  26:43 – Sam’s attempt to deal with Doctor Benton involves running him over with an SUV. It mostly results in some very gristly bone-cracking sounds and then the not-so-good Doctor getting to his feet.
  • 27:18 – Dean ambushes Bela in a motel room. he really wants that Colt. Bela claims that it’s gone, been sold.
  • 27:38 – Dean, understandably, refuses to believe a word that comes out of Bela’s mouth.
  • 28:33 – Bela takes the fact that Dean knows she killed her parents in stride, barely batting an eyelid.
  • 29:28 – Flashback time to a younger Bela being implicitly abused by her parents. Cut to present day, happily smiling Bela: “They were lovely people, and I killed them.” Girl is ice cold.
  • 30:21 – Dean spots some kind of plant above Bela’s hotel room door and leaves without carrying out his threat to shoot and kill her.
  • 30:27 – Bela pick-pocketed Dean’s motel receipt and passes that info along to someone.
  • 31:29 –  after telling each other that they couldn’t kill their respective antagonists, Sam reveals that he’s found Benton’s lab notes about the whole living forever thing.
  • 32:03 – Sam explaining that the formula is not magic but science gets interrupted by Sam’s abduction.
  • 33:13 – While Doctor Benton’s bedside manner (and self-justifications) are very soothing, the fact that he’s clearly planning on stealing Sam’s eyeballs rather undermines that.
  • 34:07, Dean shoots Benton before he can scoop Sam’s eyes out. It doesn’t kill the Doctor, but it does mean that sam doesn’t have to wear an eyepatch any time soon.
  • 35:21 – That’s kind of innovative. Dean stabs Benton with a knife through the heart. It (predictably) has no effect n the immortal doc. However, the chloroform that Dean had dipped the knife in gets pumped throughout Benton’s bloodstream, and so the Doctor falls unconscious.
  • 36:14 – The boys have Benton strapped to his own operating table. the doctor tries to wheedle his way out of it by tempting them with the immortality formula. Sam calls Dean off to the side for a private conversation. I think I can guess how this will go…
  • 36:54 – Sam contends that the immortality thing would buy them time. Dean flat out states that he’d rather go to hell than live like Benton as an inhuman monster.
  • 37:56 – Doctor Benton has been buried, chained up in an old refrigerator (which, as Indiana Jones has taught us, can ride out nuclear explosions) pretty deep underground. I imagine he won’t particularly enjoy not being able to die given that circumstance.
  • 38:58 – Bela broke into the boys’ motel room and shot what she thought was the two of them in their beds. It turns out that the bed’s are occupied by blow up dolls. I assume that Dean expected her to steal the motel receipt back at 30:27.
  • 39:33 – Yeah, he knew. And that plant Dean spotted at 30:21 is used to keep hellhounds away.
  • 39:51 – So it seems that Bela made a demon deal of her own ten years ago to have her parents die. And now it’s come due, hence the anti-hellhound measures…
  • 40:43 – Seems Bela tried to buy off her soul with the Colt, but the demon said that wasn’t good enough, she had to kill Sam as well. And now she has a mere two minutes before her time runs out.
  • 40:52 – Dean points out that, even though it was most definitely undeserved, if Bela had come to them sooner with the Colt and asked for help, they would probably have been able to save both Bela and Dean.
  • 41:07 – As I assumed the demon that holds Dean’s contract is indeed Lilith. Who apparently holds every deal, including Bela’s.
  • 42:04 – And Bela’s now done for.

A strange episode this one, in that it almost feels like two ‘B’ plots grafted together. The idea of using immortality as a “get out of Hell free” card is definitely an interesting one and it’s smart for the show to countenance it, but the organ-harvesting doctor story feels like it’s been done to death, or at least variants of it have. Off the top of my head, I can think of Eugene Victor Tooms from The X-Files and Ronald Meltzer from Angel. Admittedly, they’re not exact matches but close enough.

The other stuff exploring some more of Bela’s backstory was more interesting, though mostly as set up for the season finale next episode. I recognized that there were trying to make Bela at least a little bit sympathetic, which made me assume that she was not long for this mortal coil. Having her be the victim of a demonic deal and thus a parallel to Dean was a nice touch, it also helped explain some of her motivations more. I was also left rather flat by the fact that Lilith was the demon holding dean’s contract, simply because there really weren’t any other candidates since Ol’ Yellow eyes was eliminated.