Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Entry #91

Heart of God
by Debbie Smythe

The heart of god teetered on the mountain ledge. I held my breath, like my panting from twenty feet above might actually blow our prize over the edge. Gravel rain fell hissing into the ravine, but the heart held.

Jak frowned at Teela, who clung to the mountainside halfway to the heart. I'd often wished he'd study me the way he did her, but with his face a-streak with the blood of dead outlanders and Trial-kin alike he wasn't so pretty.

I inched nearer the edge. Nothing dislodged, but it was the lower ledge, and the crumbling rock-face between here and there turned my dirt and blood palms to sweaty rue. "Teela, come back."

"No." Jak blew her a kiss. "You can do it."

She nodded, and she climbed spider-like down the rock-face. Only spiders didn't tremble with exhaustion. Stone fractured. She gasped, hung one-handed and grabbed the heart. A dust-cloud erupted.


She coughed through the grit and stowed our salvation between her breasts. "Safe."

A wooden echo—spears on stone—said otherwise. Teela climbed, a dust-gray mote spiraling upward, but shale crumbled time and again. Spears drummed closer.

"Throw it," said Jak.

"Screw the heart. Screw Trial." I dropped to my stomach and reached down. "Climb."

Spears hammered. Teela tossed me the heart. And fell.

"Power's drained," I said. "Fifteen dead for nothing."

"Fifteen dead in Trial. Elder can shrink the perimeter field and we won't be outcast, nobody'll be outcast. We passed Trial."

Spear-thunder closed in.


Joni said...

I like the feel of this. A little Hunger Games-esque? You really captured the intensity of the scene.

Aimee Laine said...

Read through this 3x trying to fully understand. Still unclear, but I think the idea is that the there is a quest for these three people and the both fail and succeed at the same time?

Unknown said...

I'm trying to figure out who the third person is...or is it the heart? I do like the feel of this piece, a trial to garner the trust of the tribe? Nicely done.

Dottie :)

Anonymous said...

I'm really pleased with so much action in such short space. Maybe a little more narration is needed, since none of us are clever enough to fully understand the Trial, but what you've written is solid, moving, and a lot of showing instead of telling, which is SO hard to do. Nice!

SzélsőFa said...

uhm, i think the narrator was atop, while Teela and Jack were climbing up and down to find the heart, a sacred object that needed to get rescued from a rival group. the trial was to get the heart before the other group get it, and now these young are accepted as grown-ups in their own tribe.
that's my read :)

Brigid O'Connor said...

A well paced piece, it transported me elsewhere instantly. It would make me want to read more.

Precie said...

I would love to see this expanded beyond the 250. I want to know more about this world, about this trio, about the survivors' internal reactions to Teela's death. Any chance you'll do more with this?

bluesugarpoet said...

I am intrigued by the fantasy world created here! Very interesting concept - makes me want to read more. ~Jana A

Old Kitty said...

Fast paced and laden with action and a teaser into a different world!! I think this is so easily a longer story in the waiting! Well done! take care

Deb Smythe said...

Thanks for the comments, everybody. Joni's Hunger Games analogy was a good one. This is a dystopian future world, where the remaining bits of technology have become religious icons. The world is harsh and barren, but the village is protected from beasts and outlander barbarians by an ancient force shield. The heart of god is actually a power module for the protective field. The Trial is a teenage rite of passage used by the village elders for population control.

Michele Zugnoni said...

I love your description; it really brought the piece to life. Nice work.

Thank you for sharing!

Richard Levangie said...

Okay Deb, I didn't get all of that from your entry, but it was still riveting. Like everyone else, I'd like to see more, especially since I didn't think Hunger Games is as good as its reputation.

Unknown said...

To me this read like an excerpt from a longer work. Very taut writing, well done! :)

Anonymous said...

A vicious ritual. I believed it, though. The charcters' intensity sold it for me. Great writing.

Congrats on Forties Club!