Thursday, July 8, 2010

Edmund's Flight

A response to T.S. Bazelli's "Author Aerobics: Emotion Challenge" posted in her blog, Ink Stained. The challenge: Keep one emotion in the forefront of your mind while you write a scene (1000 words or less) but do not tell us what that emotion is. The story should speak for itself. The theme this week: "flight".

The screen door squealed a long drawn out moan that forced Edmund's stomach to lurch in anticipation of Lobo -- never his papa -- popping into existence behind him. But no, Lobo's slurred shouts and the sound of his sun-scarred flesh striking Edmund's mama must have drowned out the squeaky door. Inching the door closed, it squealed in soft crescendos not that different from Edmund's recent whimpers.

In the yard, the sun shone high from her perch in a porcelain blue sky fading to sun-washed jeans on the horizon. The flawless sky mocked Edmund's bruised and pocked skin. Edmund knew the beauty would be momentary, threatened by the afternoon thunderclouds that seemed to chase in Lobo's aftermath. An unreachable sky snickered behind the deformed gray boles of Gouti Fig trees and a slatted fence. No where to go.

There hadn't been anywhere to go since the government's fruitless attempt to ban Lobo from visiting his ex-wife and stepson. How do you ban a teleporter? The earth ripped through the thin tufts of grasses and Edmund plucked a rounded stone throwing it at the pointed-oval leaves. He closed his eyes a moment to ignore the sharp slap slipping from the open shutters over his mama's room.

A subvocalization, a soothing murmur of buzzes, reminded Edmund of his mother singing lullabies before his papa had died. She didn't do that anymore. A brush of velvet against his forearm startled him. Flinching, a cloud of bees surrounded him. He batted at them, but they evaded his arms. Reshaping themselves into a flat carpet with the bee bodies pressed close together. The bees buzzed around the yard keeping a solid shape before stopping beside Edmund's knee. They shook as if eager to be off.

Pop. Ice cold air swirled from where Lobo displaced it. "What do you think you're doing?"

Edmund twirled. Blood congealed on one of Lobo's hands. Edmund retreated a step, the back of his knee stumbling against the bees. They were harder than he expected. He tripped and fell. His hands gripped the top edge of the bee carpet and he found he could fly the carpet by pulling it in a direction and the bees would jerk pulling him along with it. Lobo snatched at the edge of the carpet, but the bees disintegrated around his hands leaving him grasping.

They flew over the Gouti fig trees. Edmund reached out a hand to brush at the soft new growth on the top of a tree. The ground streaked below as he passed over orange-hatted construction workers extending the road from Huautla. Any moment now and the bees would abandon him. Yet, the fall wouldn't be any worse than what Lobo would do to him.

Pop. Lobo appeared floating in the air as Edmund streaked past him.

"Come back now. It'll be better than if I catch you," said Lobo.

Lobo teleported continuously, as if he walked on air without moving his legs. Edmund looked over her shoulder, shaking his hands on the edge of his mat so that he flew haphazardly through the sky. Lobo chasing in his wake. Suddenly, Lobo appeared before him, grasping Edmund's arm with his thumb pressed into the hollow of the elbow. The hold jerked Edmund off the mat to flail in the sky before he broke Lobo's grip and dropped ten feet to land on the bees.

Below him an asphalt roller pressed the road flat. He dipped the bees toward the ground, egging Lobo in his chase. Edmund skimmed the ground before the asphalt roller, pausing long enough for the drum to catch Lobo's leg. The lines on Lobo's face thinned and before he could teleport away, he was flattened into the asphalt.

The bees slowed, leaving Edmund on the side of the road. The construction worker stopped the asphalt roller and ran to the bloody body. A tear trickled down Edmund's cheek.


  1. I thought Edmund's emotions changed through the story from fear, to desperation, to regret. Of course I may be wrong :)

    A bee carpet! What a ride that must have been. Interesting choice of imagery.

  2. I used a single guiding emotion, but fear, desperation, and regret are common themes of that emotion.

    I slightly borrowed the idea from one of the characters in the Wild Card shared novel. Jonathon Hive has the ability to turn his body into bees and control the bees as a combined group.

  3. Yeah, the tear at the end kind of took me by surprise. Given the abuse... I would have thought... vindication would be a more appropriate response. But the strangeness and surreality of this story was pretty cool.

    Also... dig the idea of "continuously teleporting" as a means of approximating flight. Very cool.

  4. Hi Stephen, glad you liked the strangeness and surreality. I think I have a slightly surreal viewpoint ;)

    I might have to modify the tear at the end, I'm trying to get at the regret and torn emotions that one has when living through an abusive relationship.

  5. That's a good point. Living through an abusive relationship has definitely got to involve a very complex bundle of emotions. That's not something I would imagine would be easy to capture. So maybe the tear is an appropriate shorthand for that. I may have been misplacing my own reaction - based on my visceral dislike of the abuser - for that of the character who actually lived the experience.