Monday, June 20, 2011

Challenge 35: A Place to Call Our Own

I can smell his musk on the breeze, a warm enveloping sense of calm. He is close. Through the muddy undergrowth, I run, savouring the kiss of afternoon sunshine as it pours down into the clearing I have chanced upon. Beauty is unspoilt in our wilderness. Here, anything is possible.

On the far side of the field of wildflowers, I pause beside a trickling creek. There are prints in the dirt, the shape of his toes as he leaped. The rain has just begun to drizzle down the back of my neck. In the distance, a hawk screeches as it swoops down to snatch up its prey. Where has he gone? The imprint of his passing begins to fill with water. Worms wriggle their way to the surface as the spitting becomes a torrent.

Sheltering in the hollow of our favourite tree, I feel like this circle, made by the umbrella of her drooping branches, is my whole world. I am safe and warm, wrapped up in his fur-lined leather coat and listening to the pounding of water outside. It was he who taught me where to go in a storm, how to build a fire of the dry twigs and logs we keep hidden here. I know I will find him, once this wild weather passes on. He can’t have gone far.

I drift into a gentle slumber, unfazed by the howl of the wolves. It is full moon tonight, but they will not bother me. I have my knife and know how to use it. Yet another thing he taught me.

My cheek resting against the rough bark, I dream of other days. Two miles north of here, at the base of the canyon, is a cave where we hid my new spear and a pile of nets I wove last autumn. He promised he would teach me to fish with it in spring, and Verdi’s eye is low on the horizon now, so winter is almost over. If I cannot find him by tomorrow, I will go there and wait. He always keeps his promises.

Dawn brings a frost. Blades of new grass crackle underfoot as I tip-toe out, not wanting to disturb the lively birdsong. Scanning the ground brings me new clues as to his direction. He’s headed west, judging by the lay of sticks beside the thorny brickle bush. It is a heady crawl, over a dead oak bough spanning the crevasse. He found it last year, after the big storm. It will be good as a bridge for many years to come.

He has left a bunch of wild blueberries on the other side, a reward for keeping up with him this far. I am eager to catch him up, though I know it is unlikely. I have never managed it yet, though he insists there’s a first for everything. Another day and my nose aches from the cold. My eyes are watering as I lie on my belly, peering over the cliff at the edge of the wastes. Is this what he wanted me to see? They are closer now than last I remember; dark, snaking pipes seeping black ooze as they suck the life from our wilderness. An owl hoots and I frown. It is not yet dusk, there should be no owls. I glance to my left and grin. There, tied to a low swung branch is a braided leather cord laced through a jade riverstone; a gift from my brother for completing his latest challenge. As I pull it over my head, I look for him, but there is, of course, no sign. I am a big girl now and there are many things I must do alone.

Wordcount: 619

Yay! I think this one is a bit closer to the brief - except for the part about using your own characters. I just made these two up on the spot.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Challenge 35: The Grace of Gods


Between tiny moments of brilliance when I wonder at the art of creation, there is only the black. It has been a long journey for my ship and I. There are no borders out here, no sense that the hours or days are ticking by. There is only purpose.


I see traces of you in the solar winds. Your eyes sparkling like the corona of that distant blue sun. Free, formless, you are dancing out here in the vacuum. Angel, I have lost you. You have gone where I cannot follow, my dearest.


How long has it been since those days? We were so young, so naïve. We saw the fall of everything we held dear, watched our people tear themselves apart. You dreamed of a better life, of a new hope.


Together we lifted those we loved. You and I found the cure for death. Machines and technology, healing, repairing, rebuilding our shells, we were forever young, forever learning. We thought we had left all that sadness behind, but we were still so young. Not ready for the power that came with forever.


I pass now and then, through old battlegrounds. I skirt around drifting debris, rocks that were once planets and suns, shards of great ships and weapons of death. There you are again, in my memory, weeping at the pain, the mad rush to possess, to be right. They were our children, you said. We did this.


You stopped them the only way you knew how. Machines could be turned off, could be modified. You held life and death in your hands and they were forced to listen. When it was done, you fled and I followed. Here, a small blue planet orbiting an insignificant star.


The planet turned, the plates crashed and fought, forming mountains and trenches, but still you worked. I wandered those lands alone, waiting for you to find an answer.


Then one day you were gone, a thousand sparkling lights, expanding to touch every part of what is known. I have not the courage to follow. Not yet. For now I am content in my search.

Wordcount: 361 (Way too short i know, but then I don't think this is really a wilderness piece in the way the challenge describes it, so I will do another one anyway)

Challenge 35

Put two characters you already know from your own fiction in a wilderness of some sort. It doesn't have to be a forest. It could be a desert of a big foreign city where the characters don't speak the language. Do not explain to us why these characters have landed in this wilderness. Stick to one POV. Slowly describe the other character, which does not want to be seen but leaves a handful of traces.

Word limit: 600 (+/- 10%)