Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Footsteps, Part 2 (Fiction)

(Just joining us? Go back to Part 1)

       Melissa listened. Strange--the loneliness of a hospital at night.
       She knew that others tortured by their disease lay awake, perhaps just beyond the wall, perhaps listening too. Yet, the hush and the darkness drove her away from them. Hopelessly distant. Inconsolable. And bitterly angry.
       But there was something more that particular night. There was cold, terrible cold prickling at Melissa's neck. Then, a few moments later, heat. Oily, wet heat. Her senses teetered, rolling between sweat and shivers, sweat and shivers. And her eyes itched, and itched. Terribly.
       Melissa blinked, fast, and squeezed her eyes shut, but she couldn't scratch. She flipped her eyes right and left, trying to trick the craving, but it burrowed too deep. Melissa remembered when she climbed an apple tree covered with the hairy vines of poison ivy. She never forgot how to identify the despicable plant after that. The same moist, unholy itching which had covered her legs and arms returned, but this time in her eyes. And her lashes were crusted. She felt the crystals jab her cheeks.
       Melissa signaled the nurse with the blow pipe mounted on the rail. The nurse had to be told. The fever felt worse. And now the eyes. The infection might not be responding. Still, Melissa had faith. More powerful antibiotics were waiting. They could knock the bug out, even if it showed some spunk, some resistance.
       Melissa gazed up, waiting for the nurse to appear, but instead of unconsciously beginning to recount the tiles, she froze. The flash of sweat on her skin evaporated, and chills buried her in an avalanche. Something stirred in her dreams as she saw the shadows, like dust or smudges on the tiles. In her memory, an impression mixed with the shapes which mixed with a sound. But nothing in the fragments strewn in her brain, nothing plausible in Melissa's experience could explain the footprints. From the corner, then looping over her bed, then heading towards the door, there were footprints, ending as abruptly as they began. Footprints marking a casual stroll, or a momentary diversion. Footprints like countless others she had seen, except these marked twelve curious strides.
       Strides across the dimly-lit ceiling.

On to Part 3

short story


anne said...

Ooh. Very nice - so I won't cry but I might be scared of going to bed, yes? :)

Jeff said...

So far, so good. :)

Kelly Parra said...

Footprints on the ceiling--crazzzzy! ;D

jason evans said...

Anne, I really can't say. Let's just hope it doesn't end up being BOTH.

Jeff, thanks.

Kelly, yeah, I don't know where these weird ideas come from.

Bernita said...

Death defies gravity?
Will she defy death?
I take it this is an meningitis type paralysis? Gives her a chance?
As Jeff said , "So far...so GOOD"

Allen said...

I am loving this, Jason! This could end up being very dark and very scary...Im lovin it!

jason evans said...

Bernita, ahh, you're thinking! Not exactly right, but getting warm. BTW, the paralysis is from a spinal cord injury/vertebrae fracture. The infection is secondary, a complication.

Allen, thanks! The encouragement offered by everyone really motivates me. And everyone should always, always feel free to say what they don't like or would improve. Critiques can only make my writing better.

Farzad said...

Hey J,
Excellent! Now I'm more curious than b4 to see where Melissa's going after this. I've been trying to imagine the ending of your story and haven't been able to. That means, your story is mysteriously GOOD.
BTW, I should come and visit you on a daily basis. I didn't know you would write the part 2 so fast.
Anyway, I enjoyed it very much. Can't wait to read the part 3.
Cheers & Thanx :)

jason evans said...

Farzad, thank you for the feedback! Knowing what works is just as important as knowing what doesn't.

I do have a certain method/plan to this site. Too many posts seem to be nearly as bad as not enough. Every 2nd or 3rd day, I have a new post and the off days are for discussions in the comments. Not everyone checks blogs obsessively like I do, so I want to give folks a chance to see a post and comment before a new one bumps it down.

Kara Alison said...

As always, the last to respond. I've been suffering from a severe writer's block. I seem to have recovered somewhat, but I'm not quite my usual self. At any rate I love where this is going (not that I can predict the actual path). It's intriguing. Can't wait to hear what's next.

jason evans said...

Kara, don't worry, there's no last. I always appreciate comments. (And yeah, I noticed you were on a bit of a hiatus on Mountaintop Architecture) ;)

Bernita said...

You want honest?
I'll give you honest.
With the usual caveat that a novel is a different can of worms than short pieces, I can see no reason why you should not have an agent and a contract, (if you do not already)
The quality of your writing is superior, and often brilliant.

jason evans said...

Bernita, I'm blushing!

You're right about a novel being another can of worms. I feel confident, though, that if I've honed my writing to a good point, sooner or later I'll package it into a saleable novel (my first is still out on a complete submission--fingers crossed).