Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Entry #1

Birds of Prayer
by Craig Scott


A hard blue eye stared at Ahiga over the top of a rifle, the other clenched shut as the soldier took aim. This was a battle; soft things die in battle. There was a hollow click as the soldier’s finger tightened around the trigger but no gunshot. Such a small sound shouldn’t have been audible above the ruckus of men screaming and gunshots.

The latter came from both sides of the fighting. Ahiga might be too set in his ways to change but the younger men in his tribe were not.

The soldier desperately tried to fix his rifle, hurried motions turning to fumbles as Ahiga bore down on him. In one shift motion Ahiga pulled the soldier’s head back by the hair and slashed his throat open, sending warm blood spurting upwards in a fountain.

Sometimes hard things died in battle too.

Suddenly there was a concussive explosion followed by searing pain as a bullet tore through him. Ahiga gasped as he crumpled to the ground, the fact he didn’t scream due as much to how abruptly it happened as much as any bravery.

As his eyes began to dim Ahiga could just make out a winged silhouette wheeling in long arcs high above him. His cracked lips curved into a smile, the eagle was a good omen. Perhaps it would mean his people would survive this turbulent time of change.

That same bird would later pick at Ahiga’s lifeless eyes with the cruel hooked beak of a vulture.

44 comments:

Bernita said...

A very NEAT ending!

Chris Eldin said...

Awesome! I love the ending.

Four Dinners said...

Nice one. And I always liked Eagles...;-)

Amias said...

Ouch! I bet he didn't see that coming. Very good tale. Good balance.

Tara said...

I love irony. Or is it swift justice? Maybe just payback...

Great ending!

Missy said...

Ooo, reality! That last sentence carries the weight of "the rest of the story" so perfectly. Well done.

Leatherdykeuk said...

Oh! How ironic!

Aniket said...

Echo to Missy!

The last line is a kicker.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Love that last line!

Michelle H. said...

Oh, that ending was great! It seemed so noble with his thoughts and yet... hello reality.

Wavemancali said...

This is freaky. I had two ideas for my story, yours is incredibly similar to the one I didn't go with.

I love how you laid it out.

Meghan said...

This is one of my favorites so far. I love the description of battle and the ending is a real twist!

pjd said...

I agree that the last line is the best. I had a little trouble because at first I thought Ahiga was the one aiming the rifle. I had to reread the first paragraph after finishing the story. But generally I like this, particularly the tragic irony at the end.

Kartik said...

I loved the last line ... and the battlefield imagery was very good!

Tessa said...

Superbly well written - the dénouement is stellar!

Lena said...

Amazingly written. Totally love the ending. That last line has it all.

wrath999 said...

Nicely done

JaneyV said...

Beautifully explored piece on the pointlessness of war. We can use our imaginations to attach so much significance to arbitrary things but in the end we're recycled no matter how we die.

Nicely executed.

Jared Culpepper said...

the opening paragraph was downright cinematic. excellent descriptions.

Jimmie Vee said...

Nothing like a good multi-death tale to cheer you up after a long days work. I liked the point of view perspective here - good job.

Terri said...

A great example of why one shouldn't bring a knife to a gunfight.

That is an excellent ending - all that symbolism and heroism, and for what?

laughingwolf said...

nice twist!

onipar... said...

Gruesome! I love it! :-)

Beth Harar said...

The "hard" and "soft" images were effective for me. Nice job.

Preeti said...

Aaouch... the ending. Damn.

Excellently written. Loved it.

kashers said...

At first I stumbled over the name, 'Ahiga' inasmuch as I wasn't sure whether it was a person or a place. However, that was more my ignorance, having never heard it before.

The story itself works very well. I particularly liked the concept of war being indiscriminate in taking away the 'hard' and 'soft' aspects of humanity.

My only minor gripe was after mentioning seeing the eagle as a good omen, it was perhaps unnecessary to then use 'it would mean' in the next line.

Still, an excellent piece nonetheless. Hats off to you.

Lee Hughes said...

Absolutely loved the last line!

Laurel said...

That last line works on so many levels. We don't have good guys and bad guys clearly delineated and obviously Ahiga thinks his team is the good guys so he sees the eagle as a beneficent omen. The eagle, however, doesn't care. In the end the bodies are just meat.

Solid ending.

Katherine Tomlinson said...

A taut, tough story with a killer of a kick at the end.

foolishwriter said...

Excellent work Craig. I especially liked "Sometimes hard things died in battle too."

It was a great little suprise in your story.

Charmaine said...

It made me think about the nobility of death upon the ignominious battle field.

Amazing.

angel said...

All's fair in love and war. Great piece.

stacy said...

As his eyes began to dim Ahiga could just make out a winged silhouette wheeling in long arcs high above him.

I loved this line. I too liked the ending and how it seemed to be a commentary on the futility of war. Nicely done!

illyriataylor said...

loved the lines "soft things die in battle/and hard things (too)

truevoid said...

liked this line Sometimes hard things died in battle too. so true, war is for no one and it doesn't take sides :)

Kurt Hendricks said...

I like the way that Ahiga sees the bird as he wishes to see it, instead of as it really is. Very nicely done.

Michael Solender said...

It indeed was an omen..well told.

Rabid Fox said...

Grim and a bit evocative. While I didn't get a feel for the nature of the battle being waged, and I wondered about its context, the scene itself felt honest.

My Blog 2.0 (Dottie) said...

OMG, I so didn't see that coming, the bird and the eyes.

Dottie :)

james r tomlinson said...

I've finally reached the end ... err, the beginning. I've been scrolling downward for days. This seems to be an appropriate way to end the various interpretations of Jason's photograph. Nice gruesome job.

Deb Smythe said...

A very gritty and realistic depiction of battle. And I agree with the chorus, great last line.

Jane said...

lovely piece of writing...he thought it was a lucky eagle but it turned out to be a vulture..reminds me of something my granddad used to say -
'you know what thought did?'
'no, what?'
'he thought he farted, but it turned out he's shit himself'

i'm glad aighia (ssorry can't spell his name) never realised his mistake and died on a high.

Ragna said...

Love the irony of this. Nicely written.

Aerin said...

Dear Entrants #1-105,

I have read your pieces so that I can fairly participate in the Readers' Choice vote. (I read all of them through last week, before I started commenting.) I will be coming back around to offer my keep/tweak comment, but I didn't want anyone to snark.

Cheers,
Aerin (#236)

BTW, it's perfectly fine if you still want to snark, but this way you can choose a more appropriate subject, like the merits of Mafia Wars or whether Katie Holmes should demand a divorce