Wednesday December 23rd, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: the spike.

I just realized that I didn't do any sort of countdown to Christmas this year. I guess that says a lot about how distracted and busy I've been lately. Oh well, just two more sleeps to go!

My sisters and their partners are arriving tomorrow evening, so the whole gang will be together for the holidays for the first time in... quite a while. I'm not sure exactly how long it's been, to be honest. But I am completely certain that I'm very much looking forward to it.

Also: I'm aware that I'm horrendously behind on comments again. I'm just not sure when I'm going to find/make time to do something about it. Sorry.


This town has always been so safe. I grew up here. Spent my childhood wandering these streets, often by myself. I was never worried about my safety, was never given any reason to even think about it.

Lately, however, things have begun to change. The recent, sudden increase in violent crimes is startling. The people are growing fearful. The police have no leads - none, at least, that they are sharing with the public. Which is only making the citizens of my hometown all the more wary of leaving their houses after sundown.

The attacks have been random. Victims have had no consistent gender or age or even hair colour. The only feature that they share is that they were alone when they were assaulted. Well, that and there has yet to be so much as a single witness.

It is unnerving.

We are not used to this level of danger. In a small town like this one? Never. This sort of thing should be the sole domain of big cities. You live among so many people, you accept a certain amount of risk. You live in a place like this, you're supposed to find safety in your welcoming, protective neighbourhood.

I am left feeling sad and disappointed.

But what can I say? Times have been tough. And a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do to provide for his family. So I've done what I had to do.

And I will continue to do so until myself, and my family, are properly taken care of.


Greg said...

I like how matter-of-fact the narrator is, and the rather chilling denouement in the last paragraph, where nothing's exactly admitted, but the reader is left in no doubt as to what's now going on. I also rather like how the narrator's self-beliefs are conveyed by the very short one-paragraph lines; re-reading the tale a second time really drives home what that tells us.

In deference to your lack of time for comments, I shall conclude here.

Greg said...

Well, since you seem to be catching up on comments I guess I could add a tale here too: do say if this is making you more work that you were expecting though!

The spike
The air was still and warm, a smell of sun-baked earth lingering in it. The ceiling was a steel-and-glass mesh, arched upwards into a dome that lightly focussed the sunlight onto the floor below. The walls were painted the colour of goldenrod, and the windows – two rows even though the room itself probably rose four stories in total – had ochre borders. There was a dull drone from somewhere, like soporific bees pleased to have found a bed of heather.
"Where are we?" asked James. He looked around, and yawned; he couldn't help himself. He felt like sitting down, leaning against a wall and closing his eyes.
"This is the solar," said Thierry. "It's at the top of the spike."
"What? That can't be right, everyone knows that the spike was where all the torture chambers were. This is...," he looked around and spread his arms out, luxuriating in the dry heat, "blissful."
Thierry walked out towards the middle of the room, his eyes on the floor. About half-way there he stopped and kicked something that clinked.
"Chains," he said. "Manacles over here."
"What kind of torture involves sunbathing for a day?" James laughed.
"It's only nine o'clock," said Thierry, walking back. "You can feel how hot it is, right?" James nodded. "Well, it gets hotter and hotter and hotter until two pm, then it starts to cool down again. It'll be this temperature again somewhere around seven. Then it gets colder and colder and colder until the sun comes back up again."
James thought about this. Despite the warmth of the room he shivered suddenly. "Yeah ok," he said. "That doesn't sound so good after all."
"But you are right in a way," said Thierry. He turned, leading the way to the door and back down the spike. "The aristocracy used to come up here around this time to sunbathe and enjoy the heat and the screams of the tortured."
James swallowed. "That's why we got rid of them, right?"
"Them and the politicians."

Marc said...

Greg - thanks!

And I am very pleased that you've added a take on the prompt. I don't care how far behind I am on responding - please keep writing!

Great descriptions to set the scene in your opening. You created a very intriguing space and then quite neatly took care of the how and the why. Nicely done!