Friday, March 02, 2007

Critics wanted

Below is a story that I wrote last year and submitted to two places for publication.  Denied both times.  Let me know what you think.


Rain in the Forecast

Mist flows down from the trees forming a virtual curtain across the landscape.  Dex limps through the woods with purpose and determination driving him forward at more of a controlled fall than a walk.  His foot squishes in and out of his blood soaked shoe.  He is unaware of how long he has been running and is barely aware of the pain that is no longer shooting up his leg.  Dex looks back to see if they are still behind him and immediately loses balance and crashes into the ground.  Luckily for him, there is a large rock that cushions his head as he falls. 

            The hunger is what finally wakes him up.  His stomach is in knots and his head is still spinning.  Be it from the loss of blood or concussion, he isn’t sure.  His first instinct is to run again, but his leg protests with intense pain.  It has been a few hours judging by the darkness and they have not found him yet.  Maybe they have given up; maybe it is just a matter of time.  Either way he has to keep moving.  He can’t think about the pain, hunger, or loss . . . the loss.  He sobs, almost under his breath, as he drags himself to his feet.  For the first time he looks down to check his leg.  A hole, about one inch in diameter, is on either side of his inner thigh.  Fresh blood is now oozing onto the crusted pants leg.  He takes off his shirt, ties it onto the wound, and starts limping away. 

            The sense of urgency from before he fell is gone.  His sense of security and slow pace allow him to think.  They had just wanted to see the planes coming in and out.  It was his idea.  The only reason that Brittany agreed to come at all was the picnic and that it seemed really romantic.  Lizzie and Jake had come too.  It was all his fault and he was the only one left.  Their blood on his hands.  The thought of it makes him want to give up.

            He had been out to the airstrip plenty of times.  He had always dreamed of being a pilot even though he had never taken steps to make that dream come true.  Dex considered himself an airplane enthusiast.  That enthusiasm had cost everyone but him their lives.  When that strange and silent plane had come down, Dex just had to leave the tree line run down the fence to get a closer look.  Brittany had followed and Lizzie and Jake stayed.  By the fence they had come into the light, but all that concerned Dex was that sleek ship in front of him.  It had absolutely no lines and looked like something out of a movie.  He realized he probably shouldn’t be seeing this as a flood light pointed directly towards him.  A split second later some kind of soldiers, they weren’t wearing any uniform he was familiar with, came running towards them.  There were two of them, and Dex did the only logical thing.  He grabbed Brittany’s hand and started running. 

            Lizzie and Jake had been paying more attention to each other than anything going on around them and did not hear Dex and approach.  “Get up,” Dex yelled when they were within sight.  “We got to get out of here now.”  Jake didn’t quite get the urgency until he saw the soldiers too.  He fell in behind Dex and hit the ground before he got under the cover of the tree line.  There was no sound or gunshot, just Jake lying there motionless and the sickening sigh of air escaping his lungs.  Dex got in between the girls and where the soldiers would be coming in to the woods.  Dex pushed the girls on the path towards his car ahead of himself.  The woods provided sufficient cover to keep their pursuers from getting a clear shot.  Dex allowed himself to relax as they broke from the tree line and started cresting the hill where the car was parked.  He stopped and looked back towards the tree line.  As he turned back towards the car, the girls fell back down towards him.  Dex heard the soldiers from the other side of the hill shouting confirmation that he had a hit.  Dex turned back and sprinted towards the woods when he felt the sting in his thigh.

            “My fault,” Dex murmurs as he falls and catches himself against a tree.  He reaches up to wipe the sweat out of his eyes and feels his fever.  He is getting dizzier and more disoriented by the moment.  He has to sit down and rest; there is no way around it.  Still, he pushes on.  The ghosts of his friends drive him until not even memories of Brittany's embrace can offer enough strength to keep him on his feet. Dex collapses to the forest floor, sending leaves swirling about his body.  He drags himself to the base of a large oak tree.  As he leans back against the oak he closes his eyes.

“Channel 3 news; news you can count on!”

“Disturbing news tonight as 4 teenagers are robbed and murdered outside of a truck-stop on interstate 4.  The four were apparently parked behind the store when they were accosted.  Police have not released the names of the victims pending notification of their parents.  There were no cameras at the rear of the store and police do not have a suspect.  If you have any information, please contact the Crimestoppers Hotline at 555-1337.  In other news there may be rain in our forecast . . .”


Read and post comments | Send to a friend


little wonders said...

For such a short story a flash back is probably not your best choice. And you raise all sorts of questions and leave the reader stranded by not answering any of them. Where is this story located, when, who are the soldiers, why is the news covering it up????

grrrace said...

i think you're really descriptive... :)but i think it's just too short. i mean, i realize it's a short story, but i think it needs a little more background...

Budd said...

I understand the comments about the length, and reading it about a year after writing it, I see where I could flesh out the story a bit in places.
Fallen Angel-When/if I get around to re-writting these will be areas that I flesh it out.
Grrrace-it is in between flash fiction and short story lenght which puts it in no man's land.
You should both check out my experiment the closet. I think I was writing that back in august or sept. the original fiction tag should take you to it.

Sci-Fi Chics said...

My first thought is you need to make it more readable. Right now, most of your sentences are similar in length, and that makes it sound more like an instruction manual than a story. Also, the sense of time is convoluted. Try making the time transitions bigger to the story. Tricky, in a story this short but doing it successfully will make it sing and flow. My final comment is that even in a short story we need to care about the characters. Find a reason for us to care about Dex. :)