Wednesday May 21st, 2014

The exercise:

Write about: burning.

Mulched some strawberries this morning. Slept away most of the afternoon next to Max. Worked on creating a website for Kat's soon to be unleashed counselling business this evening.

And now it is late and I can hear my bed calling my name.


As the car pulled into the long, winding driveway the man behind the wheel grimaced. There was an unpleasant odour in the air and at first he feared it was coming from beneath the hood. The vehicle had seen better days, many years ago, and he knew it was only a matter of time before the poor beast finally gave up the ghost.

But no smoke emerged from the engine and the gauges on the dashboard all showed safe readings. Not that, then. So what and where was the source of that awful smell?

It only grew stronger as he approached the house and he struggled to maintain his stately pace. He hated to appear to be in a hurry to get anywhere, even when he was late for an important meeting. Especially then.

The man had a handful of foibles that regularly annoyed friends and family; that one was near or at the top of many of their lists.

He brought the car around the final bend in the driveway, bringing the house into view at last. The expression on his face changed only slightly when he saw the bonfire in the front yard. When a box filled with his favorite books exited the second floor and joined the pyre he sighed, a long and slow thing, and brought the car to a stop.

Then, without a word, he put the car into reverse and gently stepped on the gas once more.


Greg said...

Yay for mulching websites, sleeping with strawberries and counselling Max!
That's a fascinating start to a tale that is crying out for an ending; the descriptions are vivid and lively and there's an air of mystery -- should we be sympathising with the narrator, or is it Henri being uncharacteristically quiet? Oh, and I especially like the word "foibles" :)

The gentle drip from the bathroom tap was keeping Anders awake. He was too warm and comfortable, wrapped in the heavy blankets on the bed, to get up and turn it off though, so he was waiting for the sound to become part of the background noise of the house so that he could ignore it and go back to sleep. It was cold outside and the house wasn't that well insulated: if he pulled the covers back from his face he could feel the chill air tickling it, and see his breath misting in front of him.
He rolled over, and as he did so he heard another noise outside his room. Or he thought he did; he stopped moving and listened. Had there been something, something falling perhaps? A really heavy footstep? Or was it just his imagination, over-tired and still bothered by the regular drip of the tap.
He closed his eyes and snuggled down, enjoying the warmth. Then his eyes flicked open almost of their own accord and he stared at the fuzzy brownness of the uppermost blanket. The bathroom was downstairs. This house was so old that there was no plumbing on the upper floors.
So what was dripping?
He made himself peel the covers back, though the chill air was almost enough to make him change his mind again, and put his feet out of bed hoping to find his slippers on the first attempt. Something warm and furry skittered away as he trod on it, making no sound.
His heart was pounding in his chest now; something had been in his room, and he didn't know where it had gone or what it was. The door was closed, so it must be still in here somewhere. It might even have run into the bed and under the blankets where it was warm....
Something dripped again and he cursed softly. Fine, he'd find the drip, then he'd come back and shake all the blankets out. What a night.
As he opened the bedroom door the smell of gasoline make him take a reflexive step backwards, and he trod on the furry thing again. Even as stumbled and fell onto the bed his traitorous mind was already asking if it was the same one, or another.
"It's a time of burning," hissed a voice in his ear, though he was sure that there was no-one on the bed next to him. Then he heard the distinctive sound of a match being struck.

Marc said...

Greg - Henri was not on my mind while writing that, but I could see how he might fit. Hmm...

That is some seriously creepy work. That furry creature was bad enough on its own, but the voice and the gasoline and the match... all combine to create one hell of an unpleasant atmosphere.

Well done!

Aholiab said...


The sirens started sounding about four minutes ago. I’ve checked the windows and doors, and turned off the air conditioning while the shelter-in-place alert is in effect. The news reporter that interrupted my soap opera is saying that their news copter should be over the site shortly; she has been flashing up phone cam shots that people have been sending her.

I know that the plant is over a mile away, but I am always anxious until I hear that comforting line, “Officials confirm that there are no toxic chemicals being released and local residents may resume normal activities after the all-clear has been sounded.”

I breathe a sigh of relief, pick up my camera, and begin photographing my patio. No “toxic-to-humans” chemicals were released, but tomorrow my orchids will all be dead.

Marc said...

Aholiab - that does not sound like the best neighbourhood to live in...

Great final line, by the way. I was not expecting that.