Wednesday June 9th, 2010

The exercise:

Daily Writing Practice was born on June 9th, 2008. Today we gather to celebrate his/her/its second birthday.

I've got a lot going on right now, so there will be no year in review style post this time around. I decided to go with something new today, something I've wanted to try for a while but just haven't managed to do yet.

So, with the idea of this blog continuing on and on, today we are going to do a continuation of a continuation.

Read this post first, as well as the two comments that continued the story, then read mine today and we'll go from there. Each contributor adds on to the story from where the last left off. Enjoy, and thanks for dropping by. It really does mean a heck of a lot to me.


I swore then, long and loud, my voice oscillating between shrieking fear and moaning resignation. Tommy was beside me on his hands and knees, completely silent. His eyes were locked on his brother’s decomposing corpse and it took a Herculean effort to stop my gaze from following his.

“What are we going to do?” I asked when I finally regained some self-control. “I don’t want to die here!”

Tommy said nothing as he slowly rose to his feet and went to stand between his brother and the pile of treasure. Not capable of thinking of a better option, I decided to check out the glittering heap. Maybe there would be clues as to why we were trapped there, or even a reason why Tommy’s brother had died attempting to take it.

It was like something out of a Hollywood movie – silver coins, golden sceptres, daggers with gems set in their hilts, the whole deal. I picked up a wicked looking dagger and tested its point against a finger. I yanked it away immediately, a small blossom of blood blooming where the two had met.

“This could come in handy,” I muttered as I carefully slid it between my belt and jeans. Behind me I could hear Tommy mumbling to his brother and I did my best not to listen as I returned to my inspection.

That’s when I spotted it.

It was a book. A simple, brown, leather bound book, no bigger than my hand. Sticking out from the far side of the pile, it was as though the rest of the treasure had rejected its paltry presence and was pushing it away.

I reached for it with trembling fingers and plucked it from the mound. After another look around the room, taking great pains not to look at the dead body behind me, I slowly pulled on the cover to reveal the words that waited within.


Greg said...

I was more intrigued by the promise (made a year ago) to continue it in "a day or two". Clearly we need to nudge you more to keep your promises! :-P

However, I like today's continuation and the discovery of the dagger and the book. Now let's see where it goes from here!


The cover felt oddly leathery to my fingers, not quite dry, but not exactly oily or wet either. A bit like a snake sweating, I thought, then wondered if snakes actually do sweat.
The frontispiece of the book bore the words "De Masticatione Mortuorum in Tumulis" in an ornate script with illuminated capitals. In much smaller text at the bottom of the page was the author's name, Ranft, and the year of publication, 1734. I turned more pages, and quickly realised that the book was written entirely in Latin, and though I'd learned some in school, it would take hours of study to read any of it.
Tommy whimpered at that moment, so I closed the book but held on to it. I looked up, and he was pointing at his brother -- well, his brother's corpse. His face was white as chalk, his eyes dark circles set deep, and his pointing finger was trembling like he'd not had his morning coffee.
When I looked at the corpse to see what the problem was, I wished I hadn't. A snake as thick as my arm was slithering up the corpse's legs and twining around its waist, making the dessicated body jerk and spasm as though it were still alive. The lower jaw fell open, and air groaned out of the lungs. Tommy shrieked, and I flung myself to the ground behind the pile of treasure.

morganna said...

Then I thought, this is ridiculous. I snatched the dagger out of my belt, flung myself back across the treasure, and stabbed the snake in the throat, where its body met its head. Black blood poured out of the snake, it twitched once, and was still.

The wall behind the sofa swung open with a creak. A tall man stood there, dressed in a robe with strange symbols embroidered on it. "Well done, little girl. You have passed the test and may become my apprentice." He stretched out a wrinkled hand to me.

Something didn't seem quite right, and nobody calls me a little girl and gets away with it. I stabbed the outstretched hand, pulled out the dagger, and held it ready.

"I see. You are quite feisty. Well, what can you do about this, little girl?" He raised his right hand, the good one. Before he could complete the gesture, I threw the dagger at his heart. It struck home, and black blood boiled out of the wound.

Tommy croaked, "Jenny. How did you learn all this stuff?"

"Oh, my aunt says every girl should be prepared for any emergency." I climbed over the wizard's dead body and into a dark tunnel.

Heather said...

I placed my hand cautiously on the wall of the cavern. It was wet, reminding me of early spring mornings running in the grass barefoot when the frost turned to mildew, but it was also different. It was warm. Raising my hand, I licked the tip of my finger. I could feel my face crinkle into concentration. "It's salty," I whispered, swallowing the deep sadness that accompanied the taste. "The walls are," I paused searching for the best word "crying." Over my shoulder, I saw Tommy straddling the pile of clothes that covered the wizard. His body evenly fell between the lightness of the room and the darkness of the tunnel. It struck me as deeply metaphorical. Light and dark. Good and evil. My childhood teachings had taught me to expect this, I just hadn't considered this would be the result when we walked through the door. We were entering a battle and he would have to chose a side. I already knew which side I would be on.

"Are you coming?" I called back, easing forward over the rough terrain, understanding settling heavily upon my skin and sinking into my thoughts. I slid the dagger back into my waistband and felt the small journal pressing against my pocket.

Tommy's feet came scuttling behind me. "Jenny? You never mentioned an aunt before."

It didn't sound like a question, but I knew it was one. Grateful for the cloak the darkness provided, I swallowed again, preparing to offer an explanation I wasn't sure he could ever fathom.

Marc said...

Greg - haha, busted. I read that comment and was like 'mmm, empty promises are so delicious.'

The snake sweating line and the snake making the body move were my two favorite parts, for two totally different reasons. That second image was just so... macabre.

Morganna - ah, everybody loves a good knife fight. I like the courage you brought to the narrator in that :)

Heather - awesome description of the wall. And that's a fantastic, cliffhanger of an ending!

I hope this doesn't end here! But if it does I'll just have to bring it back again.

A little sooner than this time, perhaps.