Thursday October 6th, 2016

The exercise:

I'm going to bust out the continuation prompt today. Consider it sort of an apology for delaying getting back to House of Mercy until Sunday (that is the current plan at any rate). So just pick up the tale from wherever the previous author left it and carry things forward for a while.

Had a very enjoyable tour of Covert Farms with the family this morning/early afternoon. We rode on the back of one of their farm trucks around the property, stopping to pick strawberries, zucchini, and grapes. Also had a visit with their chickens to collect some eggs before heading back to the main building for a baking lesson on how to make strawberry zucchini muffins.

Which we then got to eat (all of us, as they were gluten free).

We did not have the Bailey talk with Max today. I was wanting to do it with Kat after we got back from the tour but from then until bedtime was pretty hectic. Will have to make a point of finding time tomorrow.


The temple had been built deep in the jungle, its large square stones having been moved there by methods unknown. The effort had been unquestionably massive, with no roads approaching within a hundred miles and the nearest river coming not much closer than that.

And all for not, Jessica couldn't help but think as she studied its exterior from fifty feet away in the shade of a towering rubber tree. Neglected for too long, the jungle had laid claim to the building with tangles of twisting vines and carpets of smothering moss. The main entrance appeared to be barely passable without the use of a machete and if she didn't put hers to use that would not remain the case for much longer.

"I should get on with it," she said as she hefted her pack onto her shoulder. But she hesitated for another minute before putting her words into action. Had anyone been around to ask about her reluctance to enter the temple it is unlikely that she would have been able to explain it.

Birdsong from the canopy serenaded her as she made her way over and around exposed tree roots. Normally Jessica would have been comforted by their noise but on this day it sounded more like screeched warnings. 

Stay away. Go back. Do not enter here.

"Ridiculous," she muttered as she climbed the slick steps up to the entrance. Retrieving her flashlight from her pack, she inserted a fresh set of batteries and clicked it on, aiming its beam into the darkness of the temple's initial hallway.

She could make little out, other than more vegetation making its way deeper into the building. Still unable to force herself enter, she clicked off her flashlight and pulled a granola bar from the side pocket of her pack. Carefully removing it from its packaging, she stuffed the wrapper into another pocket and took a small bite as she returned her gaze to the interior of the temple.

That was when she saw a faint flicker of distant torch light.


Greg said...

The idea of a covert farm seems a little odd but is probably worth a prompt of its own. The farm looks great from the pictures, especially that restaurant setting (it may just be a wedding party, but I liked it regardless). I think I'd like to visit their myself!
Hmm, slightly spooky jungle temple, no visible signs of who built it or what it's now used for (if at all) and encroaching vegetation... this is quite the setting! I'm kind of glad you've mentioned flashlights and granola bars as it allows us access to modern technologies for the exploration!
Your second paragraph is really good for scene setting but I think you've got an odd repeated typo! I don't think "And all for not," at the start is finished? And in the last sentence I think you've also(!) got a stray "not" since using the machete would clear the way and not using it would leave things overgrown for a lot longer.
Now, let's see if I can keep up the high standards of setting and tone you've created....

She clicked her flashlight off immediately and retreated to the side so that she wasn't (from the perspective of whatever was inside) silhouetted against the doorway. Her mouth had gone dry but she forced herself to swallow the the granola bar anyway, and set the rest down on the stones. There just wasn't a way to force a way inside without it being obvious because of the vines and vegetation, so... there must be another way in. Higher up, or round the back maybe? Should she go looking?
She pressed herself against the stones. The voice had come from out of the temple.
"Ho! Out there! Help!"
Help? Well, that might still be a trick....
"Is that a way out? Help! I'm kinda stuck here!"
English, American accent. Here in the middle of nowhere.
"Hola! No hablo Espanol!"
She smiled despite herself. OK, surely there was no chance of this being a dumb tourist, so maybe she should find out what was going on. And then claim precedence on this find anyway.
She stood up and stepped back into the doorway, clicking the flashlight back on. The yellowish beam illuminated the vines and the temple interior, falling onto a green-skinned face that reminded her instantly of pictographs she'd seen in Macchu Picchu. A mouth that was like a knife-gash across the face -- reddish, dripping, splitting apart and revealing ivory fangs and black mucus -- seemed to tilt the whole head back as it opened, and a smell like a backed-up sewer on a hot summer's day hit her. She retched reflexively, her hand flying to her own mouth and her body clenching around her stomach, and as she was unable to move for vital seconds the vines enmeshing the temple entrance snapped away from the stone and wrapped around her. They slithered over her skin, scraping and abrading, woody and flexible at the same time. They creaked as they tightened, and pale green sap leaked here and there from cracks. Her head was pulled back as the vines tightened around her throat, and the thing in the temple made a roaring noise that might have been laughter.
"Help! M'aidez!" it said. "I'm the long-lost son of Tarzan and Marilyn Monroe! Pity me, I need your precious help!"
It turned and walked into the temple, and the vines pulled her along behind it.

Marc said...

Greg - hah, yes, I think I could have some fun writing about a covert farm.

I think my second paragraph could use some rewording, but it does read as I'd intended it at the time. The 'and all for not' was referring to how dilapidated the building has become after all that effort to build it. And I meant the ending to mean that the opening was barely passable (in its current state) without the use of a machete... but if a machete wasn't put to use now, then it would soon be required to gain entry. If that makes any sense at all.

Regardless, it could have been more clearly conveyed. Apologies.

And, since you've got my attention to detail radar out and working, I should probably point out that the flashlight was already off when I stopped writing, so there was no need for you to turn it off at the start of yours :)

You've got some delightfully horrific descriptions in yours. The... thing... inside, the vines grabbing hold of our hero and dragging her inside...

It's a shame things were left here. Perhaps we'll have to come back for another visit?