Palimpsest  

Go Back   Palimpsest > Palimpsest Forums > Features


Tags
horror, neighbourhood kids, poem, prose

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 4th Oct 2009, 11:16   #1
Noumenon
Senior Palimpsester

has the freedom of Palimp City
 
Noumenon's Avatar
 
Join Date: 13 Jul 2006
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 3,786
Default Neighbourhood Kids

I wrote this for a mini-competition on another forum (yes, I know, I'm such a slut). They do a monthly prompt for short horror fiction and this month, obviously, the theme is Halloween-ish; from a child's point of view, preferably with a scary toy - but all optional. I just finished, although the deadline isn't until the 30th! Any opinions?
Quote:

Neighbourhood Kids

The Neighbourhood Kids are playing outside again. One has got a piece of chalk to draw a hopscotch. Now they are singing a song about the numbers. I can just hear them from up here in my bedroom.
How Many Numbers Can You Jump?
One! Is the number of tongues in your head!
Two! Is the number of feet in your bed!
Three! Is what good things and bad things come in!
Four! Is the seasons that every year will summon!
Five! Senses, touch, taste, hear, see, smell!
Six! Different groups in which the animals dwell!
Seven! Is the number of days in every week!
Eight! Is the eyes that the spiders use to peek!
Nine! Is the number of lives in every cat!
Ten out of ten! Can’t do better than that!
I wish that I was allowed outside to play with them.

*

I feel better but mummy says I’m feverish. “Doctor knows best,” she says, mummy is a doctor. Outside the Neighbourhood Kids are playing jump-rope. They always sing a song as they play together.
Can you hear the footsteps, one-two-three!
Everybody’s coming for you, time to flee!
Here comes the mad dog with the killer bite,
Here comes the bully who’s ready to fight,
Here comes a stranger hiding in your back yard,
Here comes your dad he wants to punish you hard,
Here comes mum to make you do what you ought,
And here comes a teacher to see you get taught.
Don’t get caught, or they’ll whip you into shape!
Don’t get caught, or they’ll whip you, they’ll whip you!
I feel much better but I’m still having the nightmares.

*

I can hear the Neighbourhood Kids even at night. They sing all day, morning, afternoon and evening. I wrap a pillow round my head to stop the sound. But it doesn’t help, because I can still hear them.
Kids in their bedrooms, kids on their stairs,
Kids going out their houses, going somewhere.
Didn’t go to school today, didn’t go to gran’s,
We won’t do what we are told, we got other plans.
Gonna play games and we’re gonna sing songs,
And when the day’s are short the nights are long.
Don’t have to dress up smart, don’t have to eat,
Don’t have to wash our dirty hands and feet.
Don’t have to do what we don’t want to do,
We just want to have some fun, why don’t you?
They start to sing it again and I wish I could sleep.

*

The Neighbourhood Kids are coming this way again. Starting at the bottom they zig-zag up the street. Running from the odds on the left to the evens. Their song gets louder the nearer they get to me.
The kid at number one, fell on his head and he was done.
The kid at number two, slipped in the bath and drowned there too.
The kid at number three, looked both ways but didn’t see.
The kid at number four, once was alive but ain’t no more.
The kid at number five, stung by the bees after kicking the hive.
The kid at number six, squashed flat under a pile of bricks.
The kid at number seven, went to sleep, woke up in heaven.
The kid at number eight, shouldn’t have climbed the factory gate.
The kid at number nine, jumped the queue to the end of the line.
The kid at number ten. Got better again.
The kid at number seven didn’t go nowhere. They’re outside my garden and I know what’s coming. I can almost hear them staring at my window. I don’t want to see so I don’t move the curtains.
Hey, you, in number ten. Why don’t you come out again?
You can’t stay inside forever, we can wait until then.
One, two-three-four, five, six-se-ven-eight-nine, ten.
We love Hide-and-Seek! Come and play with us again!
Now I remember how I got sick in the first place.

*

We had just moved here and I didn’t know no-one. This bunch of kids came up, we had a snowball fight. They were the street’s Gang, every kid was a member. I could join too, if I proved I was good enough.
The Neighbourhood Kids are the Strongest of the Strong,
What makes you think that you belong?
The Neighbourhood Kids are the Bravest of the Brave,
We don’t care and we don’t behave!
The Neighbourhood Kids are the Coolest of the Cool,
We got style and we don’t need school!
The Neighbourhood Kids are the Smartest of the Smart,
We tricked the teachers for a start!
The Neighbourhood Kids are the Fastest of the Fast,
When we come running better not be last!
The Neighbourhood Kids are the Toughest of the Tough,
How you gonna prove that you’re good enough?
I stayed outside all night but I caught pneumonia.

*

Mum took my temperature, now she says I’m better. I don’t want to go out but she says I have to. “You can’t spend your whole life hiding in your bedroom.” Then she pulls a funny face, and she starts singing.
Hi-ding place! Hi-ding place!
You should see the look upon your face!
You wanted in the gang, so we saved you a space!
Time to have fun!
Let’s all race! Let’s all race!
You get a head start, we’ll give chase!
You need to disappear without a trace!
Three! Two! One! Run!
I run out of the house and look for somewhere to hide.
Noumenon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 5th Oct 2009, 10:44   #2
Colyngbourne
Administrator
is beyond help
 
Colyngbourne's Avatar
 
Join Date: 30 Apr 2003
Location: England
Posts: 10,735
Default Re: Neighbourhood Kids

This has a certain level of creepiness, Nou - skipping or chanting rhymes have that quality of primitive communal truths or practices so it's a good call on using that. What it does do though is confuse the reading experience (for me) because this doesn't feel contemporary - in the UK you'd be hard pushed to find gangs of kids of the age that seems to be indicated here who both a) chant rhymes and b) do skipping and also c) stay out all night. In fact the use of the rhymes and the term "neighbourhood", and also "jump-rope" rather than skipping rope, made me feel as if this was set in the United States, but possibly still in a different era; but then the words 'mummy' and 'gran' and even the word 'factory' make it a UK thing. Perhaps it's for the reader to make up their own mind as to when and where it's set.

The mother's collusion in the nightmare comes out of left-field, as it should and the abrupt ending fits with the minimal commentary that has set the scene.

Some of the rhymes work very well - the skipping one in particular is a good one, which I can imagine the actions and the speeding up of the rope in the last couple of lines. The first one, counting up, works as a skipping rhyme too but I don't think the No 6 line 'fits' - partly because I don't know the answer : what are the six groups in which animals dwell? And would a rhyme have evolved from children's communal knowledge that uses that fact and phrases it in that way?
__________________
Currently reading: The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins | My reading list | My film list
Colyngbourne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 5th Oct 2009, 12:40   #3
Noumenon
Senior Palimpsester

has the freedom of Palimp City
 
Noumenon's Avatar
 
Join Date: 13 Jul 2006
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 3,786
Default Re: Neighbourhood Kids

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colyngbourne View Post
In fact the use of the rhymes and the term "neighbourhood", and also "jump-rope" rather than skipping rope, made me feel as if this was set in the United States, but possibly still in a different era; but then the words 'mummy' and 'gran' and even the word 'factory' make it a UK thing. Perhaps it's for the reader to make up their own mind as to when and where it's set.
It was placed in my mental USA, and you're completely right about the mismatches. "Mom" would be better and doable, plus "nan" - maybe? Not sure about that, or what to do about "factory" either.
Quote:
The mother's collusion in the nightmare comes out of left-field, as it should and the abrupt ending fits with the minimal commentary that has set the scene.
I was really thinking about the Kids as a pack of ghosts - the list in the fourth song was meant to be of themselves (which I think I can make more explicit) - with the mother being possessed by them to demonstrate that there was no safety for the narrator at home.
Quote:
I don't think the No 6 line 'fits' - partly because I don't know the answer : what are the six groups in which animals dwell? And would a rhyme have evolved from children's communal knowledge that uses that fact and phrases it in that way?
Eeeeeeyyyeah, I wasn't too happy with that one. I was scouring the net for a good sixer, and found that. They were mammals, amphibians, reptiles, er, hang on...

Er...

...birds, fishes, invertebrates! So, no, it doesn't work very well. If I can find an alternative the previous line makes it quite easy to rhyme with, as I can just rearrange the senses; still need to find one though.

Thanks for the comments!
Noumenon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th Oct 2009, 0:33   #4
JunkMonkey
Senior Palimpsester
should be ashamed
 
JunkMonkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: 20 Oct 2005
Location: Highlands of Scotland
Posts: 2,691
Default Re: Neighbourhood Kids

Creepy.


Nit Pick mode:

If you're going for the US you should lose the U in 'Neighbourhood'.

Lose the apostrophe in 'day's':
Quote:
And when the day’s are short the nights are long.
Quote:
The kid at number nine, jumped the queue to the end of the line.
Is the word 'queue' used at all in the US? I'm not positive but I don't think it is.
__________________
Blog |Read|Film|Swapit

There Are Not Seven Words In My Signature

Last edited by JunkMonkey; 6th Oct 2009 at 11:31. Reason: Spelling
JunkMonkey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th Oct 2009, 7:20   #5
Noumenon
Senior Palimpsester

has the freedom of Palimp City
 
Noumenon's Avatar
 
Join Date: 13 Jul 2006
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 3,786
Default Re: Neighbourhood Kids

Thanks JM. All valid, I need to redraft this. Plenty of time until the 31st though!
Noumenon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 7th Oct 2009, 22:34   #6
bill
Senior Palimpsester
suckles at the teat of the Palim-God
 
bill's Avatar
 
Join Date: 12 Dec 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 2,950
Default Re: Neighbourhood Kids

I liked this, Nou. Very creepy, particularly the ending, and while I didn't get that the gang was made up of ghosts specifically, I knew there was something not quite earthly about them, and that's all you need. Or want, really, in my opinion.

As for the Americanisms - "queue" isn't used in the US. Not often, anyway. We say "line". "Nan" doesn't work, either. We have "Nana", though, and "Granny", and lots of others that wouldn't scan. Why does this need to be US-based anyway?
__________________
The Kind of Face You Hate
Currently reading: Various
bill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 8th Oct 2009, 0:26   #7
Colyngbourne
Administrator
is beyond help
 
Colyngbourne's Avatar
 
Join Date: 30 Apr 2003
Location: England
Posts: 10,735
Default Re: Neighbourhood Kids

It's that time of year but it made me think of the Halloween bits from Meet Me in St Louis. Not that period setting but just the notion of the kids in the street.
__________________
Currently reading: The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins | My reading list | My film list
Colyngbourne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 8th Oct 2009, 13:00   #8
Noumenon
Senior Palimpsester

has the freedom of Palimp City
 
Noumenon's Avatar
 
Join Date: 13 Jul 2006
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 3,786
Default Re: Neighbourhood Kids

Thanks, Bill.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bill View Post
Why does this need to be US-based anyway?
I don't know, it just is! I little part of it may be to do with the "One two, Freddie's coming for you" song, but mostly it just was this way in my head when I started.
Noumenon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th Oct 2009, 11:10   #9
Noumenon
Senior Palimpsester

has the freedom of Palimp City
 
Noumenon's Avatar
 
Join Date: 13 Jul 2006
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 3,786
Default Neighbourhood Kids - "English version"

Okay - second draft with some slight tweaks. Now it's set in good old England, mainly because I was struggling to find an alternative to "gran" in the third rhyme that didn't ruin the scansion. And "queue". And "factory gate" didn't sound very American. Basically, I took the easy route!
Quote:
Neighbourhood Kids

The Neighbourhood Kids are playing outside again. One has got a piece of chalk to draw a hopscotch. Now they are singing a song about the numbers. I can just hear them from up here in my bedroom.

How Many Numbers Can You Jump?
One! Is the number of tongues in your head!
Two! Is the number of feet in your bed!
Three! Is what good things and bad things come in!
Four! Is the seasons that every year will summon!
Five! Senses - see, smell, hear, touch, taste!
Six! The extra sense normal people waste!
Seven! Is the number of days in every week!
Eight! Is the eyes that the spiders use to peek!
Nine! Is the number of lives in every cat!
Ten out of ten! Can’t do better than that!
I wish that I was allowed outside to play with them.

*

I feel better but mummy says I’m feverish. “Doctor knows best,” she says, mummy is a doctor. Outside the Neighbourhood Kids have a skipping rope. They sing a song as the middle ones are jumping.
Can you hear the footsteps, one-two-three!
Everybody’s coming for you, time to flee!
Here comes the mad dog with the killer bite,
Here comes the bully who’s ready to fight,
Here comes a stranger hiding in your back yard,
Here comes your dad he wants to punish you hard,
Here comes mum to make you do what you ought,
And here comes a teacher to see you get taught.
Don’t get caught, or they’ll whip you into shape!
Don’t get caught, or they’ll whip you, they’ll whip you!
I feel much better but I’m still having the nightmares.

*

I can hear the Neighbourhood Kids even at night. They sing all day, morning, afternoon and evening. I wrap a pillow round my head to stop the sound. But it doesn’t help, because I can still hear them.
Kids in their bedrooms, kids on the stairs,
Kids going out their houses, going somewhere.
Didn’t go to school today, didn’t go to gran’s,
We won’t do what we are told, we got other plans.
Gonna play games and we’re gonna sing songs,
And when the days are short the nights are long.
Don’t have to dress up smart, don’t have to eat,
Don’t have to wash our dirty hands and feet.
Don’t have to do what we don’t want to do,
We just want to have some fun, why don’t you?
They start to sing it again and I wish I could sleep.

*

The Neighbourhood Kids are coming this way again. Starting at the bottom they zig-zag up the street. Running from the odds on the left to the evens. Their song gets louder the nearer they get to me.
The kid at number one, fell on his head and he was done.
The kid at number two, slipped in the bath and drowned there too.
The kid at number three, looked both ways but didn’t see.
The kid at number four, once was alive but ain’t no more.
The kid at number five, stung by the bees after kicking the hive.
The kid at number six, squashed flat under a pile of bricks.
The kid at number seven, went to sleep, woke up in heaven.
The kid at number eight, shouldn’t have climbed the factory gate.
The kid at number nine, jumped the queue to the end of the line.
The kid at number ten. Got better again.
The kid at number seven didn’t go nowhere. They’re outside my garden and I know what’s coming. I can almost hear them staring at my window. I don’t want to see so I don’t move the curtains.
Hey, you, in number ten. Why don’t you come out again?
You can’t stay inside forever, we can wait until then.
One, two-three-four, five, six-se-ven-eight-nine, ten.
We love Hide-and-Seek! Come and play with us again!
Now I remember how I got sick in the first place.

*

We had just moved here and I didn’t know no-one. This bunch of kids came up, we had a snowball fight. They were the street Gang, all nine of them were members. They said I could join, if I proved I was worthy.
The Neighbourhood Kids are the Strongest of the Strong,
What makes you think that you belong?
The Neighbourhood Kids are the Bravest of the Brave,
We don’t care and we don’t behave!
The Neighbourhood Kids are the Coolest of the Cool,
We got style and we don’t need school!
The Neighbourhood Kids are the Smartest of the Smart,
We tricked the teachers for a start!
The Neighbourhood Kids are the Fastest of the Fast,
When we come running better not be last!
The Neighbourhood Kids are the Toughest of the Tough,
How you gonna prove that you’re good enough?
I stayed outside all night but I caught pneumonia.

*

Mum took my temperature, now she says I’m better. I don’t want to go out but she says I have to. “You can’t spend your whole life hiding in your bedroom.” Then her face pulls all funny and she starts singing.
Hi-ding place! Hi-ding place!
You should see the look upon your face!
You wanted in the gang, so we saved you a space!
Time to have fun!
Let’s all race! Let’s all race!
You get a head start, we’ll give chase!
You need to disappear without a trace!
Three! Two! One! Run!
I run out of the house and look for somewhere to hide.
Noumenon is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Kids TV quiz amner Palimpton Crescent 35 20th Dec 2010 1:07
2009 Filmlists Noumenon Film Reviews 22 18th Jan 2010 13:11
2008 Filmlists Colyngbourne Film Reviews 28 18th Dec 2008 10:40
The Kids Aren't Alright Jennifer General Chat 0 27th Sep 2007 5:33
Book suggestions for kids youjustmightlikeit General Chat 2 8th Jun 2005 10:30


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 23:50.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.