Friday, January 21, 2011

Mount Tamalpais

The only life haunting the slopes above Marin's mists are the flies that buzz Booth and his brother Judas. The chainsaw hangs from Judas's backpack, teeth slapping against the leather protection wrapped over the pack. Black trunks contrast against the golden hills where the grass has dried. San Francisco Bay hides beneath the clouds.

"You sure about this?" asks Judas.

Booth shrugs from under his pack and stares at the Druid King's trunk where two limbs crisscross together to create its frozen foundation. An utter damnation, but Booth knows that he's been chosen. "God's glory."

Judas raises an eyebrow. He doesn't understand. He is merely a tool, and Booth knows that you use tools even if they are your brother. Judas spins around as his nostrils flare. "You're right. I needed fresh air." He shakes with the shuddering of letting go. "Amazing. The view and the smells. We are too busy to visit."

Blood can be tricky. It flows thick and hard in one man, but lies shallow in the other so he can't see. Booth licks his lips. Thousands of strands of power stretch from the forest of coast live oaks into the Druid King's crown. Blacks specks scar the strands where sudden death fungus poisons the power. "We have a job to do."

Judas pauses with the chainsaw in his hand. "Booth, something about this oak."

"No, nothing. It's best to get it over with quickly. It'll help you forget her." Booth's words are too fast, too defensive. He breathes deep.

"It's noble."

Nobility is a poison that makes you believe it is needed. A drug that leaves you dependent as you fall into the spell of its abomination. Booth will save his brother. "Didn't Brianna forbid you plowing her fields? Whose baby you think she bore?"

Livid spots spark across Judas's cheek. The chainsaw roars as Judas pulls the starter and steps to the Druid King's trunk. The air sparkles with a golden light. Booth prays his brother won't see the magic. The chainsaw bites into the druid's flank to spew canker, coagulated globules, that spiral over the bark.

The Druid King sucks power into himself, drinking the forest dry. Coast live oaks collapse to the ground, the noise as loud as thunder rolling over the hills.

Judas retreats and droplets of black sap spatter the fields until the saw splutters to a stop. "What?"

"Hallelujah." The Druid King's rot will end here.

"This... wrong."

"Not wrong," says Booth. "You, we, finally purge the blight. Nature over nurture, I say."

"I don't understand," says Judas.

"False gods." Booth smears the druid's ichor on his cheeks. "From the dawn of time they've lorded over these hills and stolen the life essences. No more. No more."

Tendrils of mist stretch higher up the flanks of the hills. They pass like ghosts between the brothers. A cry escapes from Judas and he flees down the slopes. A wicked smile stains Booth's lips. His brother won't get Brianna. "No more." The words whistle over his teeth. "Just the beginning." He chants as he sinks his fingers into the fungus.

This is an expansion of a 100-word script/drabble that I wrote for Lily Childs' prediction (check the comments, many good drabbles can be found there.)


  1. A different channel of religious themes than usual. Intrigue from the opening paragraphs with just what they think is coming and a seemingly neutral or positive Judas. Nice work!

  2. @John, thanks! They took over the story when I started... it was going to be in redwoods, but Booth decided otherwise.

  3. Creepy, strange, mystical, and frightening in its way... I'm not sure who to distrust more; Booth or the Druid King.

  4. @Icy, thanks!

    @Stephen, you will likely live a long life given that you are wise in your distrust.

  5. I love the imagery and the dialogue is strong. Great story.

  6. I was a little thrown by the ending. Did Booth *become* the new Druid King? Did he purposely set up his brother so he could get the girl?

  7. Hi there Aidan - I liked the name Booth. The Druid King an interesting idea. Particularly liked this line: "Blood can be tricky. It flows thick and hard in one man, but lies shallow in the other so he can't see." Nice that. Found it a little hard to decode what was going on, but enjoyed the journey none-the-less.

  8. @L'Aussie, thanks for commenting that the imagery and dialogue worked for you.

    @Ganymeder, I fear I was fairly unclear in this story. I ended up having a conversation with my sambo because she didn't catch the "girl" reference. I included it because Booth was using it solely to get Judas worked up enough to cut down the Druid King. I don't see Booth as becoming the Druid King... although that is an interesting twist; but more as he's poisoning the forest by killing the Druid King.

    @Stephen, as I mentioned to Ganymeder, I think I got carried away in my cryptic-ness. Funny thing is that this is probably 5 times the "script" version I wrote of this and it's probably not any clearer.

  9. Aidan, I read this through several times, and was still a little confused, the writing is very good, and as has already been commented, wonderfully powerful imagery, but I couldn't seem to grasp the overall plot. As you say, it is very cryptic.

  10. I did not quite get the ending - although Booth's animosity to his brother is clear throughout - a sense of jealousy etc. the piece leaves one wanting to know more..