Thursday June 7th, 2012

The exercise:

Let us see what comes from: the tombstone.

Woke up to sunshine, which was nice. It was raining again less than two hours later, which was less nice.

Currently seriously considering skipping the market this Saturday, as the weather has quite effectively pressed pause on our strawberries. Also, the crowds are always significantly smaller on rainy market days, which is what the forecast is currently calling for.

This has been a very poor start to June, but I'm hopeful that it will pick up soon.


The two men moved slowly through the graveyard, the taller one leading the way while muttering constantly. Following close behind, the second man appeared to be trying to look in every direction at once.

"I don't see why they don't just put them all in alphabetical order," the tall one said after inspecting yet another tombstone.

"Ah, well," his partner said, "that's not really how these places work, exactly. It's more li-"

"Or, you know, maybe they could at least provide a bloody map!"

"Well, if we were to come during the day, while it's actually open to the public, I'm sure they'd be happy to provide one."

"Don't be a fool, Irving." The first man had stopped and turned to face the second. "We obviously would not be able to do what we need to do while there are watching eyes about."

"Yes, or course, Gerald. It's just th-"

"This is taking too much time," Gerald announced after consulting his watch. "We're going to have to split up."

"Ah, I don't think that's quite nec-"

"You go that way. Whistle twice if you find the tombstone, and I'll do the same. Good luck!"

This last was said over his shoulder as Gerald strode off in the direction opposite to the one he'd instructed Irving to take. His partner stood motionless for some time, flashlight held in a hand that was growing ever more tremulous. At length, after one last look around, he moved to follow his orders.

"If I hear or see anything that even remotely resembles a ghost," he told himself firmly, "that tyrant can find the damned tombstone on his own!"


Greg said...

If the crowds are small and you don't think you'll have much to sell I'd agree with missing a week at the market. It seems like a practical thing to do to come back later with more produce.
I like the way you present the graveyard scene and the search for a tombstone in a very matter of fact way, and the eeriness is then built out of the characters conversation and actions. Elegantly done :)

The tombstone
Egg's fingers flickered over the keypad. Ivory-coloured keys, made of some synthetic metal extruded by nanobioware in mass-production tanks, clicked softly and luminous green digits slowly appeared on a panel on the near wall. As the last one appeared there was another, louder, click and the door of the chronomat slid open. She looked at the numbers on the wall and swallowed hard, once, before stepping out.
The chronojanissaries were tasked with watching and maintaining the integrity of the entire time-stream in which humans were present, which was still more than enough for them to do. This was the last date they were permitted to visit, the effective end of the time-stream, the point at which the last human died. All chronojanissaries were required to visit this point to see the final outcome of civilisation, and none of them spoke of it afterwards.
This was the fourth time Egg had had to come here, and every time, as the vast, unusual tombstone came into view she found herself shivering involuntarily, unable to shake the feeling that something else was watching her.

morganna said...

I agree with Greg about the market. Love the eerieness of your piece, Greg.
Hot and dusty
Full of people, not spooky at all
Not quite what I expected:
Tombstone, Arizona.

Anonymous said...

The old man struggled with the last rock which he placed atop a pile of rocks, peaking to a pyramid under the hot western sun.
He’d used his gold digging tools to dig the shallow grave, for he was a prospector, and used the last of his energy to bury his rival miner.
There’d been a shoot-out at the mines. Obviously he’d won the battle. Foolishly, it was over money as most battles are, a projection of man’s territorial imperative. Of course, the form this “money” took in this instance was gold dust, and plenty of it.
“You don’t steal from a man,” he spoke thus to the grave, as he fixed in an awkwardly carved wooden cross to place as a make-shift tombstone.
“Don’t go a-hauntin’ me now, eh. I just hope you’ll grant me forgiveness for takin’ yer life, now, but you just don’t steal from a man. You do, an’ you pays the price.”
Such was his eulogy. He spoke it out loud in case the haunt was standing behind him, listening it.
Which he was...

marc, i caught up again!

Cathryn Leigh said...

In Videra there's nary a Tombstone.
Funeral pyres and ashes scattered to the wind.
From dust we came, to dust we go,
Is the message that they send.

Joy is life worth living,
Full and happy and free.
Death is just a thanksgiving,
Of the life they gave to me.

Morrigan Aoife said...

Hidden in the over grown grass of the prairie
Lying on its back, pushed over by heavy winds
The edges of the grey cement slab crumbling
The epitaph faded, eroded away by the rain
To who it belongs, no one alive can be sure
Forgotten with time, its remnants endure.

Marc said...

Greg - mmm, very intriguing. Love the atmosphere in those ending sentences. Oodles of possibilities with this character.

Morganna - hah, that's definitely a different sort of tombstone :)

Writebite - indeed you did :)

Great characterization in your piece. I quite like your victorious gunslingin' prospector!

Cathryn - that's quite lovely. Wonderful sentiment to it.

Morrigan - fantastic imagery, I could picture the scene perfectly. Could easily be the start of an intriguing tale.