Wednesday November 9th, 2011

The exercise:

Write about: the way.

Quiet day here today, though I did manage to get into town to vote at the advance poll. Now I don't have to worry about voting on the day I'm working, and I also got to meet the woman I'll be working with that day as she was working at the table I went to.

It's good to know at least one of us will know what we're doing.


He sat behind the wheel and studied the map pressed against the steering wheel. The engine was running, burning precious fuel, but he didn't dare shut it off. What if he needed to leave in a hurry and the damned thing wouldn't turn over?

Best not to think about that. Best to concentrate on the map, to find a way through. There had to be one; he just needed to figure it out, that was all.

The low rumble of his stomach diverted his attention to his watch momentarily. Not time to eat yet. He was just playing a little game, testing out his will power. If he won his food supplies would last until he arrived at his destination. If he lost...

Best not to think about that, either.

The highways would be clogged with abandoned vehicles. Ambushes waiting to happen, those. Better to stick to side roads and hope for the best. Hope they weren't watching those.

A siren in the distance, approaching fast. Time to move.


Greg said...

I missed the 'with' from 'working with' when I first read what you wrote. I was a little curious as to what exactly election day was like in Canada in that case. Now I'm just a little disappointed, of course.
Interesting little tale you have here... a post-apocalyptic scenario I think, though perhaps not a world that's completely lost since our hero has somewhere to go. I particularly like how you alternate the long and short paragraphs to manage the tension.
Have you considered maybe picking a theme like this and giving a full week of theme-posts?

The way
"...and nothing for the skinny guy, he's on a diet," said Sylvestra to the waiter. The waiter nodded, his gaze distant and his face blank, and he departed with the leather-bound menus and a slight limp.
"What did you do that for?" asked Dr. Septopus. He didn't want to know the answer, but if he didn't get in first the Green Lightbulb and Sylvestra would squabble all through dinner.
"It's true," said Sylvestra. "Green's seeking the Way."
To Dr. Septopus's considerable astonishment Green nodded affably and even smiled at Sylvestra.
"What way?"
"The Way," said Sylvestra, carefully pronouncing the capital letters. "The Tao. Green's becoming Enlightened, and as such is rejecting material things such as food, luxuries and possessions."
"Food?" said Dr. Septopus looking at the rake-thin Green Lightbulb again.
Sylvestra leaned in close and whispered.
"I think he may have misunderstood what Enlightened means. I think he's just going on a chronic diet. If we're lucky, malnutrition will get him before the hospital does."
"I will become beatific," said Green, his eyes acquiring the same distant gaze at the waiter. "I will find the Way, and I shall become one with the Way."
"I know some criminal road-contractors who are quite good at making people one with the Way," said Dr. Septopus casually. "I think one of their motorways has enough concreted people in it that they can legitimately claim it's supported by caryatid columns."
"The Tao," hissed Sylvestra. "Not the road!"
"I shall transcribe very soon," said the Green Lightbulb, swaying slightly. "Soon I shall know Nurse Vanya and find the path to a Shanty town. Sequoia."
Dr. Septopus and Sylvestra looked at each other as Green keeled over, landing face first in the decorative flower arrangement.
"I got Nirvana and Shangri-La," said the Doctor.
"And I got transcend," said Sylvesta. "But what did he mean by Sequoia?"

Anonymous said...

marc, yes, i also want more. this could be a short story.
greg, hilarious, as always! this is a long pne for you...
The Way

She parked at the crossroads. “Three Ways”, it was called, the reason obvious. Which way to go? Too many choices. There was one way, and another way and then there was THE way, of course; a metaphor for living this life, no doubt, a product of a creator with a hellish sense of humour, only this wasn’t funny. 
She was lost, undeniably, inexplicably lost. She followed the directions scribbled down hurriedly in a short hand only she understood. What a pity she didn’t use a Bic; the pencil she used was already rubbing away, made worse by her sweaty hands. As the script was dissolving before her eyes, so was her hope. 

She closed her eyes and breathed. She’d read somewhere that if you meditated and calmed down, it helped. It was a lie. She was far from calm. She opened her eyes again, blinking against the glare and trying not to worry about the rising desert heat. 
She thought back through her life (wondering if this were the proverbial life flashing before one’s eyes as death ensues...). She thought of the wrong turns she’d made... her first husband, what a moron! Nearly made her broke with his gambling debts; that job she took in the city, trying to escape the rural community in which she grew up. Yeah, that worked a treat, not. A sleazy, parasitic boss who short changed her on wages, hmph.

So, here she was, going to a new area to be hired as a nanny to two small children on a sheep station where the woman of the house had taken over the work because she’d become widowed. Life was tough for some.
Which way? She hoped this way was the right way in her life, if she lived long  enough to find out...
Just then, a rusted-out pickup drew up beside her. She wound down the window. “Lost?” the hunky male driver said, stating the obvious. 
“Um, yeah, my directions aren’t too clear...” she answered, waving the crumpled paper in the air. 
“You must be the new chick they want down at the station, to look after two kids, right?”
“Right,” she answered, always amazed how quickly grapevine news travelled without an internet connection.
“Follow me,” he said, taking the right fork.
She smiled for two reasons, one being that she was no longer lost, the other being the way he smiled at her.
Maybe she’d finally found the right way after all...

Marc said...

Greg - what, like shark week or something? :P

That's actually an interesting idea. I'll have to give that a ponder.

Love those three. Have to admit to being equally stumped by Sequoia.

Writebite - great scene, good to see you writing something a littler longer than usual :)