Friday, November 21, 2008

I Wouldn't Stand

Close lightning cracks, and you flinch, you can't stop yourself.

You know it.

The shock rips a hole from your brain, between your shoulder blades, down to the meat of your calves.


You contract. Your hot wired body. The ripped hole is squeezed shut.

I flinched when the gun boomed, and bark exploded off the tree. Pieces stung my cheek. Clung to my hair. The rifle, like the slam of lightning.

Was I bleeding? Something felt tickle-watery, like I was bleeding.

I could run to the next tree.

Or the next.

But he's so close. Why didn't I run and not stop? He might not hit me. Not in these tress.

Another boom and flinch.

This time the bullet hit solid tree. My skull thumps. Fucking hurts. The impact flashed right through the wood where my head rested.

Footsteps in the leaves now.

The metal clack, clack of the rifle reloaded.

More footsteps.

I could run.

But I don't want the lightning in the back. Not knowing.

Not knowing where.

I used to think about people being marched to die. Regular people. Knowing it, but desperately believing anything. After walking, in a line facing the guns, crumpling in genocide, just standing there. Just fucking standing there, waiting to take theirs.

No way, I thought. Too much white hot anger.

Never let some fucker march me there, make me stand. My eyes already fading to milk and shadows.

By God I'd go down with a mouthful of them. I'd fight.

But then, the rifle clears the tree.

And the glint of a scope.

I don't even raise my head enough to catch his eyes. My legs twisted in the ferns don't fight.

I don't taste blood. Curling in the stare of the barrel.

No savage fingernails and teeth.

Dead leaves rasp with my shaking. My hands reach to push away the barrel.

I choke on the last of my air.


JaneyV said...

There's a fast beating heart in the pacing - the alarm of the hunted! The fear is palpable as is the defiance. No surrender -even at the end. Love it!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't work out if you are a soldier or a deer ... but it would be awful to be hunted either way.

paisley said...

i have been watching way to many cold case files... this so sounds like one of the poor people they chronicle, hunted down in some strange woods by someone they only just met.

what an emotionally charged piece...

Sarah Hina said...

I don't think it's cowardice. I think it's more like bitter acceptance. Yet those hands reaching out are the last second, instinctual please in the face of another's deadly rationality.

Fear overrides anger every time. Especially when the consequences of loss are so everything, so dire.

Ello said...

Wow Jason - this is F**king awesome! It's such a powerful vignette! You totally caught me up in the character so that I feel like I totally know him even though I don't even know his name. I love the viciousness of his thoughts and yet his hands pushing away the barrel was so real to me. I loved it.

Charles Gramlich said...

You definitely put us right in the moment here. Very strong.

Aine said...

Great writing--- but man, it's very disturbing since I often hear your voice when I read your posts.

Glad it's fiction.

Roxicsgirl said...

That was really touching.. not in a good way, but I can actually feel what is meant to be felt.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I'm running faster at the sound of "clack."

Anonymous said...

Janey, thanks for the feedback! An uncommon foray into first person voice.

Aggie, not a deer. They handle being hunted very differently. A deer would wind like a spring and leap at the first sense of danger. It's all in the run.

Paisley, yes, that's how I kind of thought of it too. A strange murder. A very unexpected one far from help.

Sarah, very true. I've felt that anger, watching films or seeing photos of war atrocities--people marched and gunned down. I want them to run at their killers, even though it won't change the outcome. But somehow I think this is more the truth.

Ello, thanks! I'm very comfortable in this style these days. It's minimalist in the sense of word count, but I shoot for (no pun intended) a very immediate and vivid experience.

Charles, I'm eager to see how this sense of immediacy works in novel length.

Aine, aw, that was a sweet sentiment. :) Thanks, even though it's very much the comfort of fiction.

Roxicsgirl, welcome! If you felt that raw immediacy, then I did my job. Thanks.

JR, you have a chance, at least. I say, go for it.

SzélsőFa said...

Wow, very powerful one, Jason. I somehow wish to look behind, to find some reason, but there's no definite need to have one here.
It's ultimate as it is.

Merelyme said...

Very dramatic...I am definitely feeling this piece. What inspired this?

*~*{Sameera}*~* said...

Very powerful narration!Could feel the protagonist.

Miladysa said...


Great writing - & scary!

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Very cleverly written. You certainly kept my attention throughout. That last line is unsettling - therefore, good writing.

I like how we are privy to the protagonist's thoughts. He wants to be the person who jumps up and screams - Not me're not gonna effing kill me - and if you do I'm taking you with me. However, in the end, he was like the ones he rebuked. (through no fault of his own) This was so realistic.

Anonymous said...

Szelsofa, yes, one does wonder about the reason, but you're right. In this last moment, it's the intensity that holds.

Merelyme, I've had those thoughts about people being gunned down. What they were thinking during their walk. How they were fed thin lies, but how strongly they would have clung to them, hoping that the unthinkable wasn't happening. Something about the forest picture evoked this moment, and the two thoughts came together.

Sameera, thanks, my friend!

Miladysa, and how violently the blackness must have come.

Kaye, amazingly perceptive, as always. You've capture the pain of the piece. Fearing the trembling-knee fear, imagining conquering it, then experiencing even worse.