Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Flashlight Tag, Part 3 (Fiction)

(Just joining us? Go back to Part 1)

       Stephen stuffed the flashlight into his pocket and crept down the mountainside in darkness. His feet brushed ferns, which nodded, swaying closed in their ranks behind him.
       He wormed into shadows. He wore the night like a womb. It cradled him. Protected him. The stab of Craig's light could not touch him. And the distance grew.
       He scanned the slope in the oily light. Too far to see bottom.
       Could they be down there? Any of them? The cottage was there. Places they were warned not to go.
       Stephen turned back. A glow whisked across the treetops.
       The hunters were searching. He heard them now. Taunting. Threatening. Making lunatic noises in the hope someone would laugh.
       Stephen closed his eyes and visualized the echoes in the valley. Like colors and patterns, they pulsed on the edge of sight. As he eased to the ground, his mind lifted above the noise. He tuned himself to the night sounds.
       As minutes wore on, the voices faded. A shrew twittered in the leaves by his feet. He fluttered on the frontiers of sleep.
       Crackling into his consciousness, a new sound emerged. The sound of someone walking. Sixty or seventy yards out, he guessed, and farther down.
       A smart one, Stephen thought. The guy was going to sneak behind the hunters. A great tactic. They wouldn't soon check a place they already searched.
       Stephen bent forward, but held. He didn't pounce for the easy kill. He wanted to turn the tables, to use the maneuver against him. The guy believed the threat was ahead, not sneaking up from behind.
       Stephen shadowed the steps. Keeping distance. Keeping discipline. When the pace quickened, he did not rush. Each footfall, he tested. He dodged fallen twigs and rocks. He dodged the briars without snagging a thorn.
       The footsteps stopped.
       He froze.
       He counted the seconds and considered. Then, he decided to take him.
       Slithering through the undergrowth, his crouched body flowed, leaving no imprint on the ground.
       He crested a rise to find the edge of a great bowl in the landscape and frowned.
       That's why the sounds snuffed out. The sunken ground smothered them.
       But could the guy have gone up the other side without being heard? Doubtful. More likely he was down there. Heart squeezing. Panting at the possibility of being pursued.
       Stephen imagined wide eyes blinking from the darkest hole. There. To the left. That would be the place. The blackest place.
       Beneath the surface, Stephen smelled moisture and mold. The air tasted too thick to breathe.
       Grinning, he raised his arm and aimed. He thumbed the switch, and a circle of light shot downward.

On to Part 4
Back to Part 2


anne said...

A cliffhanger?! Now?!

Bernita said...

Literally, I suspect, Anne.
He makes everything suspense.

Scott said...

You really put me into the game. I like the way you alternate sentence structure. Poetic. This piece ended in the perfect spot. I'm waiting.

Flood said...

You've captured well the way kids think when their being crafty at these games. I remember trying to think out of the box like this. It usually lead to "Panting at the possibility of being pursued."

Anonymous said...

Anne, just a commercial break. Don't be PO'd at me. ;)

Bernita, "literally..." I like that! I do intentionally end each piece with a little teaser (or not so little) to keep you coming back. Evil, I know.

Scott, thank you for the feedback! You're first person to make the point about sentence structure. I believe changing structure is like avoiding word repetition. It gives the writing a fresh feel.

Anonymous said...

Flood, I bet you were a good player. Can you be on my team? ;) Thanks for the compliment!

mermaid said...

Primal, instinctive writing, Jason. I noticed the land (once again) yielding to the creatures of the night. But, the darkness and light cannot be tamed by ordinary creatures. Stephen seems to have the cutting edge with his light.

Linda said...

Evil just evil the way you leave us hanging! I love it!

ProducerClaire said...

totally off topic - I just looked at your profile. You're a 30 something attorney who would rahter be a writer, I'm a 30 something writer who would rather she went to law school!

Anonymous said...

Mermaid, as always, you are incredibly perceptive. In the isolation Stephen chooses, he assumes a unique relationship with the moment. He floats on the discord between light and dark.

BeadinggalinMS, hehe. I'll give you some juicy stuff in the next installment, don't worry. ;)

Claire, whoa. Sounds like a parallel universe or something, LOL! Seriously, though, I'm talking about the dream--a life of collecting experiencing and weaving it into stories. Law as a career has been, and continues to be, very good to me. I probably would never give it up. It's just a matter of how much time I have apart from work. My days are long.

Brian Farrey said...

"He wormed into shadows. He wore the night like a womb. It cradled him."

You have this way with imagery that makes me squirm in my seat. This is a good thing. I give this 4 out of 5 "Ewww!"s.

Mark Pettus said...

Your ability to put us in the moment with so few words has always amazed me.

Part 4 will be out when?

Melissa Amateis said...

ACK! Jason, no fair, no fair! Write faster!!!

Kelly (Lynn) Parra said...

Great tension here, Jason. Way to go!

Anonymous said...

Brian, much appreciated! Distilling that imagery on the page is my favorite part of writing.

Mark, such a high compliment, I thank you. Part 4 will be out Sunday night. There will be some good meat in that one. Part 5 may wrap it up. I'm not sure yet.

Melissa, I'll try not to let you down!

Kelly, thanks, my friend. :)