Friday, October 7, 2011

Oktober the Seventh: The Lathyrus Machine

Last night I ran writing exercises for my meetup group-- a writer's critique group that I've been with coming up on three years, I think. Fantastic group of people, good writers of various genres and life experience. We were writing a few of those six words novels that are so popular nowadays, and our new pal Alex had a great one-- so great I asked if I could use it as the first line in my story the next day. He said yes, and here's what it sparked, for now.  Thanks, Alex!

Peace, Mari


The Lathyrus Machine

By Mari Kozlowski

Stop running now, you’re already dead.

 Soft, on the edge of hearing, the voice rustled in his ear like a moth caught in the drapes… tiny, almost inconsequential, but there. He felt it moving in his hair as he ran, touching his neck at the back; a gentle pick pick pick that paced him, mile by mile.

 He ignored it and kept his speed up. As long as there was enough light to see by, he’d keep going, looking for his brother. As long as his legs held out, and they still felt strong.

 Down the dark and curving path he ran, fast and smooth, under trees and a sharp clip of moon. Sure of his purpose, his strength, his hope of a rescue. Sure the night would end well, if he just kept moving.

 If he’d seen himself then, eyes hollowed and dull in his face, skin pale as wax, he might have listened to the incessant whisperer trying to break his search. He might have understood he was beaten.

 Then he would have stopped and noticed the clammy cool, the mists that filtered up through the brush, the faint flush of red on the moon. The adrenaline would begin to drain away, taking his purpose with it.

 And then he would have remembered his brother’s mouth, spitting with the force of laughter, or Jack’s eyes shutting quietly as he lifted a gun in his mangled right hand. He might feel the burn of the bullet that had just passed his cheekbone.

 The steady tone of Jack’s last words would sting as they had hours earlier, when the court of one passed sentence on them both, before judge and jury became executioner.

 He would have known. But he ran, ignoring all evidence. His mind was a soldier, trained for endurance. He kept running the path.

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