Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Entry #189

Take Me Down, Sir
by Lily Childs


The searchlight from Tom Shaman’s soul bled pale amongst the treetops.

‘C’mon old man’ he whispered. ‘Help me out. Just one more time.’

The crow found him first. Its blue-black feathers flurried in the twilit sky like the tattered jacket of a jaded Morris dancer. It landed gracefully beneath a guardian oak where Tom lay reclined in half-meditation; half-naked, fully despondent. Troubled by the shaman’s weary demeanour the crow danced around the man’s feet, eyeing him through dark beads.

‘What ails you, friend?’

‘She’s gone. I’ve lost her.’ Tom shook his head, distraught. ‘Take me into the darkness, Crow. I’m begging you.’

The bird hopped onto Tom’s shoulder, claws piercing bare skin.

‘You’re not ready. You don’t have enough experience. This could destroy you.’

‘It doesn’t matter. Without her I’m nothing. Please, take me down.’

The crow stabbed at an errant feather with its silver beak.

‘Prepare then, Tom Shaman. This may be your final journey.’

Fluttering up to stand upon Tom’s shaven head, the crow wrapped its wings of midnight around the man’s face. Cautiously, it laid its chin on Tom’s forehead. They both heard the dark side calling. And were gone.

They travelled deep, deeper into the place of deity, of creatures unseen, of life forms unknown. They came to rest.

‘Where’s my wife?’ Tom cried out loud, breaking the rules. He hung his head, sobbing, expecting nothing.

‘Look.’

Tom squinted into the void.

The body of Magenta Shaman drifted into view. Small and still. And quite dead.

31 comments:

Michael Solender said...

Stunning and packed with imagery. Love it - tops for sure.

Laurel said...

Pretty and sad. I like the mystical risk taking and the crow as guide throwback to our fables and myths.

I like this a lot!

Aniket said...

Spooky. Quite sad too that his desperate attempts end in vain too. Loved reading it.

Lee Hughes said...

Beautifully written as always Lily.

wrath999 said...

Cool, great tale

Bernita said...

I especially liked the description of the crow and its movements as spirit guide. Original.

Chris Allinotte said...

Beautifully crafted.

"This could destroy you." Wonderful reveal at what that really means with the last line.

Applause!

Lily Childs said...

Thanks very much everyone.

I'm looking forward to reading more entries this evening.

Paul D. Brazill said...

That's a cracker!

Stephen Hill said...

Incredibly well crafted and the descriptions are fantastic. "Its blue-black feathers flurried in the twilit sky like the tattered jacket of a jaded Morris dancer" Man.

David Barber said...

Some excellent writing there, Lily. Fantastic imagery throughout. A hell of a story in so few words.

Preeti said...

I loved the wise crow. And the desperation of Tom was very well brought out.

Loved what i was visualizing while i was reading.

Deb Smythe said...

My favorite line:
Tom lay reclined in half-meditation; half-naked, fully despondent.

Nice work.

lena said...

Great imagery in this piece. It was very easy to visualize the scene. I liked the story.

laughingwolf said...

definitely a keeper, thx lily...

MRMacrum said...

Plucking the errant feather is where I was hooked. As others have said, the imagery was excellent. This story could be expanded so very easily. But fills all the needs as it stands. Very nice.

Erin Cole said...

This is chilling and gorgeous at the same time- I love the sharp ending.

Michael Morse said...

I entered this contest without giving it much thought, now, because of yours and many other stories I think of little else. I had chills while reading this, and that simply never (hardly) happens to me.

I loved the desperation. Thank you, great work.

Lily Childs said...

Thank you so much everyone for your kind comments. I really value them.

What a wonderful outlet this is, and great to read so many different styles.

Thank you Jason.

Craig said...

Nice descriptions.

Kartik said...

The desperation in his voice was so vivid. It just felt ... cruel!

Lily Childs said...

It's kind, Kartik, but thanks. Tom is still learning...

pjd said...

The writing is clean and gripping. You've told a really complete tale here, with only enough left out so we want to know more about Tom and his wife. Nice work.

James R. Tomlinson said...

For me, the most revealing part of the story is this: "The crow found him first. Its blue-black feathers flurried in the twilit sky like the tattered jacket of a jaded Morris dancer." This is one of those descriptions that any writer would envy.

Aerin said...



my caveat

Something I Would Keep

A really strong beginning, with efficient description to hook the reader.

Something I Might Tweak

I was unclear about Shaman - capitalized as a name then not - as a description of Tom's role? I know people used to be called - oh, you know "Cooper" after their professions, and I was pretty sure that was the case, but then I wasn't sure.

I'm rambling. I need to take a break. This was quite a nice entry to break on!

Lily Childs said...

Thanks for your comments Aerin. Yes, you are right about Tom and Magenta being referred to as Tom Shaman, Magenta Shaman. Rather than being their surname (which is something else), it's a kind of title that has been awarded by the entities of the other realms, and only these entities would refer to them as such.

Whilst this piece isn't an excerpt, it is related to a novel I'm writing, called Magenta Shaman, where this is made clearer. I realise I obviously didn't consider this in an abstract, short story. A lesson learnt for me. I hope it didn't detract too much.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Ouch! More please. This story needs to be told in full.

JaneyV said...

Lily - this is a treat for the senses. I love the interaction between the Crow and Tom. Tom's desperation to find his wife is keenly felt - how will he react on finding her dead.

Of course given the mystical quality of this I find myself wondering if what he sees in the void is reality or a possible future.

I enjoyed this piece very much and I like your style.

Beth Harar said...

You write very well, and your images are excellent.

"The crow stabbed at an errant feather with its silver beak."

I loved that line.

maybe genius said...

Beautiful opening line. This was a very visual, moving piece.

catvibe said...

I like it. The concept, the mysticality, the writing, the whole thing. Excellent.