Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A bit of fiction

Below I've pasted an edited out-take from one of the novels I'm currently writing.
This week it's for your pleasure only.

One single tear rolled down the dirt smudged, bloody face of a dying father. He had watched his family die before his eyes while he lay helpless. But his family’s hardships were over. Soon his would be too. All he need do was wait, to slowly spiral down into the peaceful dark of death. The crunch of approaching footsteps echoed strangely in the finally quiet valley. A tall, pale, young looking man stood just in the edge of his vision. He seemed to swirl and glow, and then slowly turn red, in the eyes of the dying man.
“Do you know that you are the last one?” The young man’s voice was sudden, unwelcome in so quiet a place. It seemed like he was shouting in a graveyard; for that's where they were, in a giant, open, mass grave. “You haven’t even the camaraderie of your dying companions. They all died quickly. They didn’t have the time to think about it. I hope you’re taking advantage of your unique opportunity”. His voice was quiet, and deep; and yet it was so hard, so cold. He settled himself down on the wheel of an upturned cart. The horse was being eaten by flies and maggots, still lying where it had fallen, still strapped to the cart. The same cart that had trapped the poor father. He had run from the sides of his companions as they were being slain to save his family.
His wife had been at home and unprotected, caring for their children. He’d been in the fields working with the others. They had come from the forest, and the men on the furthest edges of the field never had a chance. He and those around him had formed a loose line, and prepared to fight this monstrous… army? It was! Somehow these beasts formed what looked like military formations. They charged. Really, considering how easily they slew the men, their organized attack was unnecessary. Overkill. When the men around him started dying, he turned and ran. He had to save his family. The village was doomed.
“Juliet! JULIET!” He’d been shouting his wife’s name. If he hurried, maybe, just maybe they might escape into the woods. Running was the only option by then. The enemies were sweeping through the town, right on his heels. He could hear the screams of his friends and comrades all around him. Apparently he wasn’t the only one who had turned and run. Snarls and roars surrounded him. There were shadows around every corner. Screams and shouts of dying men rent the air. A woman’s high-pitched scream carried over every other sound. They were attacking the women and children. His hut was at the very edge of the village… if he could just make it… There was a crash, and a horse’s frightened whinny, followed by a loud clattering. He threw a glance toward the noise just in time to see a horse drawn cart slam into him, and fall on top of him. His head hit the stone street with a sickening crack!
He woke what must have been moments later to his wife’s desperate screams. She was standing in the doorway, shielding the children, a five-year-old girl and two boys, one seven and other only three years old. His head throbbed, and the back of his skull felt warm and wet. The cart had crushed him, and he was pinned from just below his chest all the way down to his feet. A giant, scaly creature, like a lizard standing on two legs, faced his terrified wife, slowly stalking forward. In its hand was a horrible weapon, like a mace, but with long, sharp spikes on one end, and a bloody hook on the other. Not that this creature really needed weapons. Each of its fingers was tipped with a long, sharp claw. It grinned, showing two rows of sharp yellowed teeth. The man tried to shout out, but only a labored groan escaped his crushed lungs. The creature turned its head to look at him with crimson eyes that glowed out of the rotted skull of something that used to be alive. Now he could see that bits of flesh hung off of the creature’s bony frame, and the flesh, which must have originally been a healthy green, was now a tired old grey. The monster reeked with the stench of the grave. Three new beasts leapt up on top of the little hut. They looked like twisted, emaciated wolves. Their limbs were long, and should have been too wiry for such a huge frame. They were nearly skeletal. Still, regardless of their lean frame they were colossal. Their combined weight was too much for the little house. The roof came crashing down on the children. The woman screamed as the reptilian monster launched it self at his wife. None of it lasted long, but it seemed an eternity to a helpless father and husband.
The entire battle had not been long. In fact, it had not really been a battle at all. It was a massacre. The ones in charge of protecting the people were nothing more than a small village’s unprepared men. They were not soldiers. They were farmers and hunters. Such a small place had nothing to offer its attackers, except perhaps for food and water, the bare essentials. Yet the army that marched against them was too large for a tiny village such as this to provide any meaningful sustenance. Surely the people of the village had not been in the way! They were innocent and insignificant, useless and powerless. This was murder. The tiny town was just practice, just a little bit of fun to an army as great as the one that had stomped through here. What made their odds of survival all the worse was the fact that this was not an army of men. It was an army that none could believe existed, made up of monsters and men that might as well have been monsters.
Surely the strange young man must be mad. All of the innocent lives lost, and he was being philosophical. It seemed horrible, one last cruel violation of the hearts of the people of the slain village. He was right, though. The dying man was the last of his village. The other men, and all the women and children, were dead. Small flames licked at the remainders of the houses, which were all that was left. It was kind of peaceful, now that the dying man thought of it. His eyes followed his spirit’s languid flight to the heavens, and never closed again.
“Pathetic”. The young man said it to no one in particular, with distain dripping from his voice. Everyone was gone now. “His last moments on this earth and he chose to think about peace and quiet”. His cold words seemed to settle over the village like a shroud. The sun was setting, and mist swirled at the edges of the village. Eyes peered through the misty darkness, and bizarre, twisted shadows began to take shape. A lone snarl came from the forest behind the crushed hut. It seemed to pose a question more than a threat. “Yes, alright. I’m coming. Let’s go”. An icy chill swirled from one edge of the decimated village to the other, and the young man was gone. The menacing shadows melted into the softer shadows of the twilight hour.
A rattling came from the crushed hut at the edge of the village, and then the soft crying of a child.

Input, people! Let me know what you think. Thanks! I hope you enjoyed it.


Anna said...

Well this is fascinating, it's well written stuff. Reminds me very much of This Other Eden by Ben Elton (a wonderful book by an amazing author, give it a read if you haven't). Can't help but feel like you laid it on a little thick though? You can't make people care about a character just by making him a father, or by throwing a dead horse into the picture... mind you, that passage is out of context, I can't really judge it fairly just from that!

I have a lot of respect for people who can write this kind of thing though. I love writing fiction; never seem to finish it though!

Barry said...

Beyond the beauty of language and plot, really good fiction is filled with little surprises, as cliche is replaced with novelty.

Plot is hard to judge in this short excerpt, but your language has a tough beauty and there were enough little surprises along the way to keep me eagerly following along.

Well done.

Rick Rosenshein said...

Hi there,
Thank you for visiting my blog. I greatly appreciate it and hope that you will return often. Thanks again and keep up the great work on your blog. Rick

Marie-Antoinette said...

Good stuff, the images are very stark though, but I like that. It's not too sentimental. It's structured well too...it kind of reminds me of Donna Tartt 'The Little Friend', for some reason. Keep posting extracts!

The Vengeance said...

Thank you all so much for your imput!! It is very much appreciated! <3