Thursday, January 07, 2010

Entry #28

In the Shadows on the Lake
by Jared Culpepper


The big man pressed on ahead, without giving notice to the shadows around us. I followed, watching the twin strips of bare earth revealed from years of curious souls on the same path.

My wingtips and suit were ruined, I saw in the lantern’s light. My companion looked as if he’d never been anything besides muddy, in his high-water boots and overalls.

“Gonna make it this time?” he snorted.

I looked at him curiously. He continued walking.

“I remember you,” he said, stepping out of my light.

I hurried to catch him. “I’ll be fine.”

“Like last time?” he sneered.

“I was very young then.” I first came after my grandfather’s funeral. We were very close, his death was difficult. He was the one who told me about this place, this man. But I was much younger, not hardened properly yet. “I’m ready for this now.”

He snorted. “Sure, fella.”

We stopped at the edge of the lake. Many years had passed, it was pitch dark around us and the foliage had grown thick. I still could’ve spotted the lake from a mile off.

He pointed at the water. More shadows. The boat was coming across, slow, unreal. Just like last time. That same damned cloaked figure in front, and in back… it was her.

“Can I talk to her?”

“Nope.”

“Can I…”

He gave me a dirty look.

I could just watch. I knew without asking. We’d been over it before. Now, all I could do was watch.

31 comments:

Bernita said...

Eerie mythic echoes. Nice.

Lena said...

Good work here. Feeling some hopelessness here though.

Aniket said...

Well, as long as she doesn't mind being watched... :)

Leatherdykeuk said...

Not sure what was going on. Charon?
I liked it greatly.

Jared Culpepper said...

Charon, Death, any which you will. The familiar of the transition into the beyond.

I appreciate all the feedback!

Chris Eldin said...

Yes, eerie is how I'd describe it. I love your imagery.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Had to read it a second time to get the full impact. Well worth the extra effort. I'm thinking it's his mother this time, but perhaps not.

I'd love to see this as a longer piece. And I love the boots and overalls. Such a great take on the myths.

pjd said...

Unlike Sarah, I like this just as it is and don't feel a need for it to be longer. Very efficient writing, great characterization and dark imagery. Everything builds consistently to the same end.

What I didn't know on my first two readings was whether the MC was on the living side or the dead side. I decided after the third reading he's on the living side, but I found myself wanting him to be the one that was dead. Not sure why.

Very well written.

Craig said...

I love the way the big guy comes across. With his attitude alone he makes something so eerie seem so normal.

Kartik said...

Very compact and eerie writing!

JaneyV said...

Jared I read this as a man who was making his final journey to the point where you cross over from living into the realm of the dead. The attempt that he had made as a much younger man was I feel something he had tried in desperation when his heart was broken at his loss - but he survived. This time he is ready.

I hope I have done it justice. I found it very moving and compelling.

PEOPLE, PLACES, VOICES, FACES... said...

I'm going to take this slightly differently from you, Janey. This time he thinks he's ready, but he's really not.
And I agree. I found it compelling, too.

Ranee

Four Dinners said...

Not familiar with the beyond myself...some other time eh?...;-)

That was kind of spooky...to me.

Compelling is good. Yep. Compelling.

Very well written. Gives me the creeps!

NobodyKnowsMe said...

Kudos. Veritably, I say unto thee: Lord, I want more!

Gita said...

I had the same urge, to see my father off, when he died. Only in my version, it was broad daylight and the banks around the ferry were thronged with people saying their last goodbyes.
Simply wonderful, Jar.
Do more!

Terri said...

Reminds me of that song... "Don't pay the ferryman"

Great job on showing his character, using the the other man as a "mirror" as much as using his own thoughts.

Tara said...

I cannot even pinpoint what it is specifically, but I'm left feeling hollow, wanting more.

Really nice job.

Kate said...

I thought this had a great build-up; I really wanted to know what the narrator couldn't handle when he was younger but could now. I guess I still want to know. I would read it as he's watching some woman he loves passing into the after-life, but it said the boat was "coming", not going, so I'm pretty confused.

Kate said...

Oh... I guess on re-reading the first two paragraphs do tell you where he is. It's a great construction.

Amias said...

... death can be very seductive and addictive. nice read.

K. Soles said...

Nice prose. Compelling and vivid.

Aimee Laine said...

I want to know what he saw! :)

laughingwolf said...

the wingtips fooled me, for the nonce

a worthy write...

Lee Hughes said...

Great piece. He should have sucker punched the guide and pushed Charon overboard and then had his little tete a tete with the lady.

austere said...

Dark.
(after I've read the comments)

Laurel said...

This is fascinating. I always like references to mythology so this is right up my alley.

So sad, too. I wonder what he wants to say to her?

Catvibe said...

Kind of had a Mysts of Avalon feel. Eerie. Nice imagery.

McKoala said...

The 'wingtips' sent me on the wrong track initially. I love the blend of myth and reality.

james r tomlinson said...

There's a fine line between the living and the dead. This is a journey from one side to the other.

Deb Smythe said...

Ooo, I like this. The Ferryman mythology told in such a realistic, everyman voice.

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 new Starbucks paninis or the people over 35 who are exclusively on MySpace