Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Un-Frabjous Night

He dared what no one ever dared.

He let the darkness snake through the Tulgey Wood without running away before it came.

If fact, no one ventured into the wood at all if they didn't have to. Even in the baking light of midday. The wood spun its own gloom, and tree tops spread wide and belligerent, like enemies of the sun.

The blade lay sheathed across his knees.

He thought about who might care if his bloodied corpse were discovered the next day. He thought about the many who would not. His confidence faded with the light, then the color, then the very shapes of things. Definitions blurred, and cut shadows bled into damp twilight.

Harder, his eyes strained to keep up.

Harder yet.

Then, he sensed it all on the verge of turning under. The edge of night. When blindness stabs at our deepest instincts, and the noises of night creatures begin to move. As he thought about the invisible scurries and the mysterious padding of feet, the wave submerged him. The blackness brought the claustrophobia of huge, empty places. It squeezed around him. Even if he chose to run, the hidden thickets would shred him.

So he grasped the hilt of the sword and closed his eyes.

Open or closed, it didn't matter anyway. If the sun was gobbled by the trees, delicate starlight would be chewed and spit back to the skies.

He ignored the rustles, the distant chirping calls until the low wheeze of a breath snapped his terror wide awake.

A predator's stare blinked impossibly close.

But too large. Tremendously large.

The Vorpal Blade sang out in his hands.

The Jabberwocky leapt. It was not expecting to be challenged by its food.


Karen said...

You really do mood so well.

Seré Prince Halverson said...

My walk in the woods will never be the same :) Especially love this: "the tree tops spread wide and belligerent, like enemies of the sun."

Daniel Weise said...

That would be one surprised Jabberwocky! I love the feel and pacing of it and it certainly left me wanting more and more.

Oddyoddyo13 said...

Isn't it kind of an oxymoron to be claustrophobic in huge spaces? not the point, sorry. I got off track. :)

Fantastic Jason! Really though, where do you get this stuff?!

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

The wood spun its own gloom, and tree tops spread wide and belligerent, like enemies of the sun. -

Love the poetry of this line.

I always enjoy your fiction vignettes. You have such great instincts.

SarahA said...

The atmosphere chilling and the images 'mind sticking'. I love 'If the sun was gobbled by the trees'; I can see such clesrly.

the walking man said...

One sits and waits for the moment then comes the decision. Fight or flight. Fight is always the best but east chosen choice. I like this.

Anonymous said...

Karen, that is always wonderful for me to hear, because mood is probably the one reason more than all that I write. I want to record atmospheres and recreate them. So thank you!

Sere, I've spent a ton of time in forests, but I'm still struck by how fundamentally different they are at night. Sitting in the darkness listening to the things moving around you is pretty unnerving. I tell myself that I'm the predator in this forest, but I never quite believe that I'm at the top of the food chain.

Dan, I liked doing this little nod to the Jabberwocky. I memorized that poem back in 5th or 6th grade and still know it now.

Oddyoddyo13, yes, that effect was my intention. In a forest, in the dark, the world feels strangely closed in, probably because you imagine countless things creeping up on you on all sides.

Thanks, Kaye. Truly. Maybe that's my best niche. Poetry/prose fusion. Scene building is probably my favorite part. Then dialogue and human interaction next.

SarahA, I wanted this scene to be a tapestry. Spun with blue and black thread.

Walking Man, for some reason, the Jabberwocky jumped into my head. When I thought about my own spin on it, I wanted to focus on the un-glamorous and fearful grind of the anticipation. The horrors anyone goes through before the hero's welcome afterwards.

Mona said...

This reminds me so much of Ted Hughes' 'The Thought Fox'

Such vivid description!

Akasha Savage. said...

OMG that's so spooky. We're studying the Jabberwocky at school this term and the children are having to do just what you've done(and very well you've done it too): describe a scene as if they are actually there!

SzélsőFa said...

whoa, i thought he was to commit suicide out there in the forest.
i enjoyed the wording.
and although it feels like an oxymoron, claustrophobia in a vast open space is possible.

Anonymous said...

Mona, thanks!

Akasha, I love those moments of serendipity! Thank you for sharing. :)

Szelsofa, you must be influence by my other work. ;) A suicide has shown up here and there.