An Epic Battle

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September hosts an epic annual battle; Summer, Autumn and Winter launch their best soldiers, Summer presses down with heat, Autumn with a volley of color and Winter throwing daggers of ice and snow.

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Trifecta’s weekend Trifextra challenge put forth the prompt to put forth 33 words about a famous trio. This week we’ve been witness to the above battle and so far, it’s a tie.

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Trifextra Week eighty-seven

Vivid Black: The Agony of Defeat

Two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow, moonlit lane, shuffling and moaning. Sarah Jane’s surprise somersaulted her heartbeat, her hands darting to her mouth, shock and fear trickling through her. Stringy deformed shadows marched ahead of her as she gained her senses, rushing to retrieve lost ground.

Silently she thought,

“Oh no, not this time. Never! You’ll have to work harder than that.”

Her strategy to wind through City Park on Solitude Lane was deliberate, and on the route, but the hoard would unlikely wander here early in the game. At least she thought so. When she chose it, Sarah Jane was sure she would have time to formulate another successful defeat and escape to the “Safe Zone”. They were getting smart, but not smart enough. These guys were determined to break her streak and assimilate her into the hoard with their gnashing and tearing.

Jogging carefully down the path, she scanned ahead for more and occasionally peeking over her shoulder to monitor the two behind. The rules stated: “No Zombie shall run, jog or walk at a fast pace. Shuffling or dragging is the only acceptable mode of progress.”

The Normals goal is making it to the “Safe Zone” without being “bitten”, “scratched” or “damaged” in any way by a Zombie. No weapons could be used in their efforts. The Zombies have the advantage of surprise. They get to begin anywhere on the gauntlet route so the Normals need keen, sharp senses to avoid them.

The Zombie Gauntlet Challenge took place every fifth Friday and Sarah Jane was the only person to make it through to the Safe Zone every time. Twenty five Normals were challenged (many failing) to make it through the Zombie Gauntlet zone.

Heart pumping, and breathing steady, she looked back again to see the two closer. Squeezing her eyes narrow as she hissed,

“Cheaters!”

Determined, she surged ahead, widening the space. Her focused attention was drawn away by the annoyance, and the task of watching her back, she didn’t see the broken armlike branch that sent her sprawling.

Face wide in an “O” of alarm, her arms flailing forward struggling to protect. Crashing, she rolled to withstand any damage from the “attack”. The face of the man who surprised her faded in and out of the shadows, intent on a despicable deed. The shining edge glittered in the moonlight, cleaving the darkness, and endlessly plunging in. She raised her hands to defend the slashing ruin of the relentless attack.

Found lying wet, red, open, and mutilated a “Zombie’s” human scream signaled true terror. Rules broken as others hurried to reveal the cause, discovering a lifeless Sarah Jane, Zombie Gauntlet champion. Reality overtook fantasy as she was defeated only by true death.

Continue reading Vivid Black with The Trouble in No Answers

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I’m linking this up at Write on Edge. Cam gave us this weeks prompt for Red Writing Hood and gave a challenged to “advance the plot”. Here’s how it went:

For this week, I’m offering you this opening line:

“Two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow, moonlit lane.”

If you are approaching this prompt from a memoir standpoint, feel free to use a narrow lane, a moonlit night, or appearance of someone seemingly from nowhere as a jumping off point.

You have 500 words.

A Tangible Memory

Arm snatched and face snarling in rage. “Why? I told you STAY CLEAN!”

Tiny features shrink in fear and shame as tears stream. “I’m sorry mommy. I didn’t mean it.”

Pulled fast and ity bity feet can’t keep up. Angry words mutter frustration and threats made impulsively, foolishly not meant to be fulfilled.

Little eyes look up pleading and wondering, dreading and wailing at what may come.

Buckles snapped and belts strapped, a wisp of clarity, whispers and winnows in sneaky and sure. Seated and belted a peek in the back, a beloved face crumpled scared. Hand over eyes, control regained realizing a wretched mom lost it to fun with smudges and sand. 

“Let’s clean up and go get ice cream.”

Ocean filled eyes clear while a hand swipes across her cherry wet nose.

“Really?”

“Really.”

Unbelted, streaked dirty face turned shiny and bright.

The penalty for wretchedness? The memory of the pain and fear on the adored face. No other punishment needed for the stinging cost of the tangible memory.

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Trifecta challenge this week is to write about the word “wretched” by the 3rd definition in the dictionary which is:

Wretched: being or appearing mean, miserable or contemptible (dressed in wretched old clothes)

Do so in no less than 33 and no more than 333 words.  Have fun.

Peeking Over the Dash

Trailing a finger along walls and windows, Emma traced a beginning. Getting here was like running a marathon in bare feet over hot coals. Her life leading up to this was littered with land mines and hidden traps, and getting out was clandestine and secret like a James Bond movie.

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Winter was uncertain and unpredictable. Dad worked for Mardi Gras Games and Amusements. From April to September he was gone running carny games. When the season finished, he spent time unemployed and continued his quest to become the baddest, meanest drunk. Like a feather drifting on a breeze, Emma made herself silent so she wouldn’t be seen. If she failed to avoid detection, his drunken grasps and flailing blows were usually harmless, and sent her floating farther out of reach as she silently slipped away.

The winter before Emma’s 17th birthday was the worst. He caught her a twice. The second time she spent three days in the hospital when the beating left her unconscious. She looked like a pansy patch of purple, green and yellow bruises. She knew DCF would never intervene so she went home.

A week later when she made her monthly visit to Aunt Polly’s, she still bore the shadows and smudges that hinted at the violence she survived. Polly, a happy and content soul, snapped and her outrage thundered. Time was both for and against Emma. In exactly 49 days the new Midwestern carnival circuit started. After Polly quenched the wildfire of anger, she came up with a plan. They carefully devised every moment of those 49 days to keep Emma safe until she could move into the gardeners cottage on the grounds of Polly’s estate.

Emma woke up on a sunny Spring morning to an empty apartment. Her dad left, as expected, without a good-bye, a note or any indication when he would be back. Dressing quickly she retrieved the boxes she had hidden under the porch where he wouldn’t find them, and began to pack the shelves of books, nick nacks and bits and pieces that constituted her life. Clothes were packed into five reusable McIntosh Grocery bags. Each green bag with the toothy red apple, had a purpose. One each for shirts, pants, socks and delicates, pajamas and bathroom stuff.

She felt an odd fluttering sensation in her middle. It was intoxicating and the high was the smile she wore. It was foreign, unexpected, out of place for her. The lightness was the knowledge she was moving step by step toward liberation from the bonds of living with addicted parents. Aunt Polly’s offer to live in the gardeners cottage was a gift. Emma could move forward, assemble a calm life free of reckless emotions. It would be built on a reliable foundation with the bricks and planks she chose.

Parked on the street in front of the derelict row house her father rented was Polly’s 1978 Cadillac with the cavernous trunk waited for Emma’s treasures. Polly and Cora flitted up to the front door and chattered with excitement. Green paint peeled and flaked as the battered screen door opened. The torn screen fluttered as it swung away from the frame and the ladies trooped inside.

Yoo hoo! Emma? We’re here!” Polly called out.

Cora watched, astonished as Emma bounced out of her room and looked the part of a normal 17 year old girl. A different person emerged as she swept them in an big embrace while she tittered out of breath.

It’s done. It’s all done!”

Aunt Polly and Cora were grabbed by the wrist and she skipped back to the room and dragging the awestruck women along. These emotions worn on Emma were alien. The stoic, suspicious girl had been unexpectedly but pleasantly transformed.

A small assortment of boxes and shopping bags layed on the floor and bed. Polly shifted her weight and cocked her elbow as she put a hand on her hip and pondered six boxes and five bags. How does seventeen years of a girls life amount to so little? A deep breath cleared the cobwebs in her throat she said,

Well! I think we can get it in a couple of trips. Is this really all there is Emma?”

With a wide grin stuck to her face she, her shoulders squeezed to her ears, as she nodded her head.

One by one boxes and bags were gathered, and one by one carefully placed into the abundant space of the Caddy’s trunk. After all of the boxes and bags had been stowed, they stood back and cackled at the leftover space after Emma’s life had been loaded up. Polly and Cora packed themselves into the front seat while Emma finished.

She swung the battered screen door open for the last time. With new found assurance and confidence in her future, she fearlessly walked to the room that had sheltered her for 17 years. Dust floated in motes and shone in gray and white rays across the floor. A wry smile turn up her mouth as she contemplated the empty shelves between the windows, and the rumpled bed in the corner. The ease at which it emptied illustrated how little she was worth in this place. She locked the front door, secured the hook on the screen door, turned and walked away.

With hands tucked in her back pockets she skip stepped her way down the walk. She reached the car, opened the door and slid into the back seat. Emma sank into the soft deep leather and cool air inside the car whisked goosebumps over her bare arms. She closed her eyes and let out a deep breath as some of the tension of her precarious life was allowed to slacken.

Aunt Polly carefully eased into the street and Emma was carried slowly forward. The fog was lifting and clarity peeked over the dash and illuminated the promise of tomorrow.

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Linking up with Studio Thirty Plus for their Writing Prompt #43 “Changes”

Rolling in History

Standing on the edge of the opposite shore. The anticipation has me tight as a trip wire. We decided to make the event an “Event” and packed a cooler with food and drinks and spent the day on the beach. There was swimming, applying layers of sunscreen, eating, laughing and having fun. The underlying prize was knowing we would witness history so the fun and glee was edged with sparks under our toes as we skipped along the day toward dusk.

We were an island in the sea of contenders for the best place. As the time grew near, the sound built and washed over the crowd, then ebbed into a murmur. Beads of light on the horizon grew to vast boulders. Buzzes and sirens broke into the turbulent noise on the beach. Riveted to our place we pooled together as we gazed outward.

A rumble rolled slowly into a roar as smoke and steam built like clouds tethered to the ground. The noise choked off the buzz and excitement of the onlookers and eyes squinted as the form rose. Then the gaze widened in awe and amazement.

Shooting for the horizon. Aiming for the achievement to be first, the best. Revered.

Bystanders. Witnesses. Onlookers. Pictures snapped away to prove it happened. To prove the participation.

A new rumble rolled over the beach as cheers erupt and emotions discharge like fireworks on the Fourth of July. Our collection of friends and family leapt, embraced and howled as the excitement escaped. .

The drive home was quiet. Peaceful and retrospective. A small smile sat on my mouth. I knew with certainty, this is one of “Those Times”.

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Flash fiction from a Surprise Prompt posted by Write on Edge. Quick and dirty.

“Take a look at the photo below and write. Don’t think too hard, just write what comes. Fiction or non-fiction. Don’t spend too long. Have fun!”