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.

Going Home

He finally found her sitting in a corner of the dining room turned away from the party goers, perched at an angle toward the wall. Anna’s face was crumpled up, streaked with tears even though she was trying her best to restrain them.

“Baby, what’s wrong?”

“Oh James, I thought this is what I wanted! I miss her and I want to go home!”

***

The evening began weeks before as they savored the idea of their first date after Tilly’s birth. The anticipation was so strong it was like the luscious seductive reaction to chocolate as you walked by a Godiva store.

She was home for weeks healing from the C-section and learning what it took to be a mommy. She spent days on auto-pilot, rarely getting into anything other than sweat pants and one of James’ t-shirts. Latching Tilly onto a boob was easier with a loose shirt you didn’t have to fight. She softly crooned a song her granny had sang,to calm the baby when she was fussy. Sung slow it passed as a lullaby and faster to induce new smiles.

“Sugar in the morning, sugar in the evening, sugar at suppertime.
Be my little sugar and love me all the time.”

Glenda, her soul sister, helped during her darkest hour of need; finding the right post-pregnant outfit for the party. At “Second Time Around” they found a black a-line skirt scattered with red, black and gold sequins on the feathery flowing chiffon outer skirt that floated and danced when she walked. The beautiful butter colored silk tank top that draped loose at her neck finished it. She felt like a princess when she walked into the party.

The conversation tinkled like wind chimes, but when a gust of laughter came, they would clang and clamor as the volume rose with the number of adult beverages consumed. Anna drank in the collection of adults and conversations about anything other than breast feeding and changing diapers. In mid conversation, she would feel a flutter of worry but quickly push it down.

A trip to the powder room, with ears ringing from the void of noise, something twisted in her chest wringing her heart dry. Tilly! It was the first night she didn’t tuck her in and sing “Sugartime”. Leaning on the counter she composed herself, and headed back to the party where she found a stool the host had set aside in a corner of the dining room.

James saw the forlorn expression on his wife’s face when he found her and quickly retrieved their belongings. They wound through  pockets and clusters of happy people and slyly slipped out the door as the mantle clock rang midnight. Anna felt the knots relax as each roll of the wheels carried them closer to home. As the garage door closed, she breathed, relaxing.

Anxiety ebbed out as Anna leaned over the crib watching as sleeping baby smiles twitched on Tilly’s tiny mouth.

She. Was. Home.

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I wrote this for the red writing hood prompt which had a 500 word limit. It asked:

“Pick four numbers, each between 1 and 10.

Write them down so you remember.

The first number will be for your character, the second your setting, the third the time, and the fourth will be the situation.

Then take the four elements and combine them into a short story.

All four you picked MUST be your main elements, but you can add in other characters, settings, times and situations.”

My numbers drew these elements: Character – A New Mother, Setting – A Party, Time – Midnight or around midnight, Situation -Reminiscing on how things change