Thursday, July 22, 2010

Forties Club Finalist #19

Broken Shores
by Deborah Smythe

I fell to my knees, dragging Trey down with me. Or was it the other way around? The sand, oatmeal-thick as we ran, now burned like crushed glass. I knew oatmeal. Gramps uncovered a stash once. We'd full bellies for a month; made dodging suits easy.

Oatmeal I knew. The sand surprised me, and the sun. It wasn't this hot in-city, or this bright.

Trey lay on his back, chest heaving. That was a good sign. The blood soaking his pants leg wasn't. I fumbled the water bottle from my pack.

He turned away. "Don't waste it."

"Shut up and drink."

"How long before they get here?"

"Them?" I squinted down the beach at the oncoming suits. "We'll outrun 'em easy. Refuge can't be far now." Forcing a smile, I slipped the sparkle-stones from my pocket and nested them in seaweed. "One stone and we're in, Gramps was certain. Now drink. We gotta go."

Hands clasped around his leg, he shook his head.

"Trey." Tears choked my voice. "Maybe—"

"Do me now."

"Lost my knife," I whispered. "It'll have to be fire."

"Flint's gone. Run."

"I can make fire!"

Foam flecked his lips. "No time."

"Yes." Smoke, brine-sharp and fishy, tickled my nose. "There is." One of the stones had ignited the seaweed. The clear stone, a marriage rock Gramps called it.

"Smell that?" I shouted at the rotting meat suits, focusing on the one that used to be Gramps. "My husband ain't gonna turn suit!" Baby kicked agreement.


Beth said...

Ooh! Your last line really caught my attention. I enjoyed this piece.

Michael Morse said...

I shall never again walk in the sand without thinking of oatmeal. And hot glass.

Great story well written, thank you!

Jade L Blackwater said...

Your story covers a lot in a short space, great tension and emotion - I'm ready to hear more.

Anonymous said...

wow. This was intense. A definite contender.

pegjet said...

Sorry, I was the last comment and hit publish too quickly.

PJD said...

Echo what Jade said. You accomplished so much in a teeny weeny space, and did it well. Great writing, great world building. Love the "marriage rock" and gramps having already "turned suit."

Oddyoddyo13 said...

Loved the idea of the chase in this one. :)

JR's Thumbprints said...

You put the reader in the moment quickly. I could visualize the setting and feel the tension. Good job.

Anonymous said...

Zombies, 1!

Sarah Laurenson said...

I got more out of it each time I read it. You did put so much into this piece and having the later information made the beginning even more intense.

Nicely done.

I agree, Aerin - Zombies! Love that they're suits.

Craig said...

You've created a palpable sense of desperation here with very good pacing. Loved it.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Hi Deborah!

OMG... zombies and poor Gramps has become one. Loved it!!

Dottie :)

McKoala said...

Had to read this a few times to get everything out of it, but in a good way. A very tightly packed story.

Deb Smythe said...

Thanks, guys. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

I almost didn't submit this time around. Zombies aren't everyone's cup of tea, I know, but that's where the muse took me and I couldn't come up with anything else.

Joni said...

Wow. Talk about dilemma.

I'm hooked. Where's the rest?!

J. Elis Morgan said...

I loved your entire last paragraph! Excellent read.

JaneyV said...

Deb this was wonderful. I loved that the ''Suits" turned out to be Zombies but ti was the voice of the characters that made it for me. A very entertaining read!

Laurel said...

Wow! Love the pace, build, momentum, and twist. This is one of my faves and the only quibble of the IMHO variety is the line:

Refuge can't be far now.

That sounds more formal, less vernacular than the rest of the piece to me.

On the other hand, if that's the only thing I can uncover to nitpick, then you did an awesome job. Plus, as I said, that's a very subjective nit.

Deb Smythe said...

Refuge is their name for the maybe real, maybe mythical Zombie-free city. I was worried that wouldn't come across and toyed with some other names, but figured the idea of refuge was the most important thing.

Vincent Kale said...

Zombies are totally my cup of tea (or bowl of oatmeal, as it were)!

This entry opened up so many questions for me and had me begging to know more. It's obviously post-apocalyptic due to the uncovering of "stashes" and the renaming of diamonds as "marriage rock" and the city of Refuge.

What got Trey and the narrator out of the city? Were they scavenging? How did Gramps get turned?

Great great great voice in this piece. I loved the zombies as "suits" (though at first I thought they were Feds chasing jewel thieves, so great twist there!).

Harsh to have to burn the husband alive, but what's a girl to do without guns and knives? At least she has the baby! How did you fit all this in in 250 words?!

Fantastic :-)

Meghan said...

Wow! That last line totally threw me for a loop! Great job.

Laurel said...

@ Deb: Cool! In that case, you have an ideal conception for a perfection of a wordly confection.

(sorry. Too much commenting all at once. I get punchy.)

JR's Thumbprints said...

Now why didn't I see the meat puppets on the first read? Enjoyed reading this a second time.