Saturday, January 09, 2010

Entry #72

Furs and Ice
By Josh Vogt


All futures hide in the clouds, Father told him. Trap the sky beneath your feet, and walk what must come.

As Omen trudges onto the frozen lake, he scratches at the wolf pelts cloaking him. Oracles always wear stinking furs.

Such is our way, Father said.

Omen hates stinking furs. He smells the rancid unguent Father drank each morning, trying to ward off the bleeding cough. Its stench tainted the old oracle’s breath, his bowels, the hide walls of their hut. Now it follows like Father’s ghost, come to see the son’s first foretelling.

He reaches the middle of the lake and stands amidst the gray reflections of cloud and twig and crag. Omen stomps. Ice shrieks. Its polish shatters into a maze of cracks. The reflections within no longer move, trapped for his scrutiny. Trapped, just as he is. Forever an oracle, wearing the stinking furs of a babbler.

Omen’s feet are numbing. Skin sticks to the ice as he steps towards shore. He hunches, looking for signs to convey.

There, branches knot in a telling of early summer. Beside this, a rounded cliff predicts many births within the tribe. A step further—

Omen stops. Stares at the next frozen vision. A bird’s spread wings reveal a chance for freedom, offered to those with the strength to grasp it.

The future within the ice groans for release.

He raises his foot for another stomp. It will be a bitter swim to shore, but faster once he sheds the furs.

23 comments:

Bernita said...

You've married the ordinary with the mystical beautifully.
I like it very much.

pjd said...

What Bernita said. I think this is a beautiful piece, with the background woven into the story and the furs acting the perfect MacGuffin in a blaring yet not overdone way. A well executed twist on the "son doesn't want to take over the family business" tale. Nicely done.

onipar... said...

Pretty cool. There's a lot of back story just outside the narrative.

Aimee Laine said...

I don't want to wear that coat either! :) Glad he found his way!

Craig said...

Another good play on the freedom/trapped theme. Nice symbolism with the coat.

Sarah Laurenson said...

It's all been said already. Well done.

JaneyV said...

Josh, I'm always excited to read a piece from you here at CoN. As usual you have combined originality with beautiful simplicity to produce something incredibly beautiful.

Wonderful.

Kartik said...

I really liked the imagery and the angst behind the "stinking furs". Lovely!

Lena said...

Greatly done. Tough to add more to the previous comments. Really very good work!

catvibe said...

I like his name, Omen. Nicely written, I was at the North pole with the Inuits reading this one.

Kate said...

I love this method of foretelling - fascinating!

laughingwolf said...

great... and that should teach him to stay away from wolf pelts! GRRRRR

Laurel said...

This is fantastic! I like the world building- or society building, I guess. Pace is great, details are great, and the smells are very present. (I'm a sucker for that. It makes things way real for me.)

And I love that he sees the possibility of an alternate future in the scry of the lake and decides to sieze it.

This really captivated me all the way around. I was very into the story, the language added to the experience, and the take on the prompt was lovely. Good job!

Four Dinners said...

As Sarah said - 'It's all been said already. Well done'

My meagre talent is all the more meagre...not that I mind.

I well enjoy reading quality!

Deb Smythe said...

This is one of my favorites so far! I loved the voice, the MC and most importantly, the story. Thanks for sharing.

Chris Eldin said...

I've come to look for your takes on these photos. You never disappoint. So elegant and creative... a beautiful vignette indeed.

SzélsőFa said...

there's more to it than the words itself. I saw his world, interwoven with the beliefs he is about to leave behind... great job.

Terri said...

Ditto on what's been said by the others - I like this story very much.

james r tomlinson said...

Oh, but won't hypothermia set in? I enjoyed the setting of this story.

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 Sarah Palin's hair or the enigmatic career of Justin Timberlake.

Deb Smythe said...

Josh, congrats on the H/M. Loved your story. It made my fav list.

Josh said...

Thanks to everyone who read, and to all those who commented. It is always great to fun take part in this contest, and I'm already looking forward to the next one. Congratulations to all the winners.

Dottie (My Blog 2.0) said...

I loved the ominous name, Omen, most foretelling of what's to come.

Congrats on the H/M!

Dottie :)