Monday, January 11, 2010

Entry #135

The Orchard and the Crow
by Gef Fox


I awake hungover and cold inside a decrepit barn. The night before--New Year's Eve--only clouded fragments. I roust myself up and fight against the chill. A wonder I didn't freeze to death.

Outside, I squint against the sheer white that greets me. I'm in an orchard covered by new snow. Fallen while I slept. I see no tracks. Nor my car.

I left my car, I remember, to walk home. But there's no orchard between the pub and home. I don't know where I am. Gnarled trees surround me, clinging to withered fruit.

A crow circles above me, then glides down and lands on a skeletal branch before me.

"Maybe you can tell me where I am," I joke.

We call it Purgatory, a voice answers.

I sober up and look for whoever spoke, but there's only the crow.

"This is a dream," I say, unconvinced.

This is Purgatory. Where you will remain, unless you find the boy.

"What boy?" I ask, but I already remember.

I abandoned my car, but not at the pub. I didn't see the boy--barely in his teens--on the road's shoulder until it was too late. I swerved into the ditch. Then--

Find the boy and salvation is yours, it says then flies off.

I search for the boy. If he's here like me, I can find him. The coldness creeps inside me. I have to find him, but all I see are trees. Like tombstones row on row.

34 comments:

Meghan said...

Wow! The ending is very powerful. Great job!

Bernita said...

Nice work. An interesting crypto-Xian setting.

peggy said...

I like this one. Great job.

Merry Monteleone said...

I liked this one, too. Interesting setting and I really liked the voice.

Craig said...

Spooky but in a good way.

Aniket said...

A great built up to a chilling setting. I wonder if there's a way out though.

austere said...

loved the imagery.
And the idea.

angel said...

This was good. Very visual.

kashers said...

Purgatory: the place where everything remains in the balance. Will he receive salvation or damnation? The answer presumably is if he can first redeem himself. I love the dilemma. No coincidence he's in an orchard, re Biblical image of life, and how it's covered by new snow, his recent sin.

Tessa said...

'Like tombstones row on row' - brilliant imagery!

laughingwolf said...

good'un, gef!

Laurel said...

This is packed! I love the allusion and the sense of justice. His doom is his own making and if he can correct the wrong he restores his own life.

Middle English style sense of fairness, here.

Nice!

Four Dinners said...

Terrific imagery and terrific writing!

lena said...

I loved the imagery in this one. Great writing. Especially liked last paragraph.

pjd said...

Gef, this is terrific. A great progression from confused amusement to that "oh shit" moment. A complete story. You did so much in so little space. I love this.

Kurt Hendricks said...

Love the idea of purgatory as a blanket of snow. Great job!

Zombies-R-Us said...

I like the voice in this neat, tense, urban fantasy tale. Word economy and omission of superflous details makes it move forward very quickly. Interesting twist on the idea of Purgatory. Nice work.

catvibe said...

Excellent! Truly well written and beautiful imagery.

Kartik said...

This is simply brilliant, the way the story takes a sinister turn.
"The night before--New Year's Eve--only clouded fragments" .. super line!

Rabid Fox said...

Thanks for all the kind words. I'm glad so many have enjoyed it. And I'm a tad surprised at how much people have dug into its symbolism, which I was not cognizant of in the least. Go figure. :)

SzélsőFa said...

great visuals here. i liked how he becomes refreshed from being drunken to being sober - this is what Purgatory is for. i liked the snow and the withered fruits, too. nice voice.

McKoala said...

Fabulous last visual! I like the transferred world, too. Nice work.

Jean Ann Williams said...

Nice and clean writing.

Jean Ann

JaneyV said...

Powerful piece of writing Gef. I think you moved from the fuzziness of the hangover to the terrifying realisation of what he'd done and its horrifying consequences, with perfect precision, totally nailing it with that beautiful image of the trees as tombstones at the end.

Really well written.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Very nicely done. Great reveal.

James R. Tomlinson said...

I can picture this setting. You did a great job with the descriptions. I'm reminded of the movie, "Hangover."

Aimee Laine said...

Freeky! I can see the symbolism of the orchard vs. the cemetery. Yikes! I can also imagine his quick build of anxiety as the need to fix it all. :)

Chris Eldin said...

Sharp, crisp writing. Really enjoyed reading this and seeing where it would end. Last line is killer!

Rabid Fox said...

Again, thanks for the kind words. I'm a visualizer when I'm writing, so as the image crept into my head of the guy stepping out of the barn and seeing a vast orchard, I saw the rows of snow dappled trees like tombstones in those perfect rows. The image worked for me at any rate. :)

illyriataylor said...

Holy hell this is disturbing, creepy and absolutely fantastic!!! You're on my favs list

illyriataylor said...

oops..forgot to tell you A+ on originality. Fantastic approach.

Aerin said...

I stopped on this one last night because my brain was getting fried and I knew I couldn't do it justice. Now, fresh-brained and caffeinated....I'm still not sure I will.


my caveat

Something I Would Keep

The title - I expected Aesopian and I can't begin to describe my relief that it was not :) - the action - yes, I definitely "hear/see" this piece, which takes skill to do - and, the plot, because it's relatively simple and yet I never felt you were condescending or falling short.

Something I Might Tweak

"New Year's Eve -- only clouded fragments" is the only sentence fragment (toward the end is a description) in a piece with full paragraphs the rest of the way through. If it's intentional, I'd make it more so; otherwise, try to smooth out (?)

Dottie (My Blog 2.0) said...

An existence in Purgatory could become Hell, but redemption could still be found. Nicely done!

Congrats on the H/M!

Dottie :)

Rabid Fox said...

More great feedback. Yay. Yes, that sentence fragment could probably use some tweaking. Something I should have caught in my proofreading, but I was just writing it in a conversational tone and didn't think too heavily on that section.