Wednesday December 28th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: attrition.

Took a trip up to Penticton today to get groceries. I dropped Kat and the boys off at a friend's house so that they weren't stuck in the car for most of the day. Was basically successful in my errands. Even managed to avoid getting in a car accident when the car next to me (in the left turn lane) at an intersection decided to also go straight.

The road rage settled down eventually.

Though I feel it bubbling back up again now, so perhaps I should just get to writing...

Mine:

"Status report, soldier."

"We continue to suffer heavy losses on the Eastern and Northern Fronts, sir."

"As does the enemy, I presume?"

"Yes, sir."

"Excellent."

"Sir?"

"This is a war of attrition, soldier. Unfortunately for our enemy - and quite fortunately for us, it almost goes without saying - we began with superior numbers."

"What are you saying, sir?"

"It's simple math, soldier. As long as each of our men takes one of theirs out with him, we will emerge victorious!"

"But... you're talking about millions of lives lost, on both sides! Who would be left to celebrate a victory such as that?"

"Soldier, as long as I'm one of the ones with a glass of champagne in my hand at the end of this nasty bit of business... well, I dare say that's all I care about!"

2 Comments:

Greg said...

Well done on the errand running and controlling the road rage! That does sound like a particularly stupid, or dangerous, driver though. You'd hate trying to drive here in Malta then -- most of them would get themselves (and probably others) killed on London roads if they tried driving there the way they do here.
I think you've summed wars of atrrition up very nicely in your story, for all that your junior officer doesn't seem to get it quite yet! I do like that peculiar cheerfulness that seems to found amongst people who think it's faintly amusing that they're in no danger and ordering other people into it, and you've captured it perfectly with your commanding officer. Great work!

Attrition
"How many people just give up trying to reach a tomb down here?" Samual's voice sounded just a little petulant, and Lord Derby glanced back at him. He was still walking along, his eyes watching Kevin as carefully as Kevin had insisted and his hands still jammed deep in his pockets. His shoulders were hunched inwards slightly and he looked like he was trying not to shiver.
"Depends," said Kevin, coughing. "Of'n the uns that shouldn't be down here I'd guess'n most've 'em give up around the Miley mark, though there's been those that made it to the Tomb of the Unknown Boulder right enough."
Even Ernest shivered at the mention of that place. He prided himself on his rationality and sanguine temperament, but there was something that was definitely best left to the mages and magisters of the Realm.
"It does seem like this journey is rather one of attrition," he said. "As though it were deliberately conceived to wear people out so that they never get there."
"We're here," said Kevin abruptly. He stopped, and a patch of darkness seemed to lighten slightly until there was a stone doorframe visible with a wooden door set in it. The door showed signs of age: the wood was mottled and patches of soft white mould bloomed here and there across its surface. There was a faint, milky smell in the damp air, and a slightly cold breeze that raised the hairs on the back of Ernest's arms.
"That wasn't a coincidence," he said, his voice calm and level.
"You needs to figure it out for yourself," said Kevin.
"If we came down here again then, we'd be here in -- what, maybe fifteen steps?"
Kevin's smile was dark and tight-lipped. "Youse still has to get to the Miley mark," he said. "After that the journey takes as long as it takes. But aye, I reckon for you it might take fifteen steps. Maybe less."
"We walked all that way for nothing?" Samual looked stricken. He looked around him. "How close to the entrance are we then?"
"Not for nothing," said Ernest. "We had to travel it to learn something about this place, and I must thank-you: I think my patience with the journey would have lasted at least a half-hour longer before I challenged it. The good news, I think, is that we can probably walk out of here in five minutes or less."
Samual's mouth opened and closed as he thought about that, making him look a little like a goldfish. He pulled his hands from his pockets, twisting them in front of him, unconsciously reflecting his thought processes, and finally let them drop to his sides.
"I guess we're here then," he said, and Ernest smiled.
"Indeed," he said. "Where exactly is here, then, Kevin?"
"Where the vampires live."

Marc said...

Greg - I vaguely recall the traffic in Malta. I think I mostly just walked and took the bus, so I have no experience of it from behind the wheel. I suspect that's a good thing :)

Thank you, once again, for the kind words on mine.

I do not think I would enjoy travelling through these catacombs of yours. But if I had to, for whatever reason, then I think I would be glad to have Kevin guiding me.

Another ending to leave me eagerly wanting more. Of course.

I shall continue to catch up on comments, then, and hope for more in the week ahead!