Thursday, February 10, 2011

Photo Challenge 2: The Death Pods

This photo was taken by Cliff Bryce. Click here to view his other photos.

Finding Inspiration: My Weekly Photo challenge.
An old friend of mine is a talented photographer. He posted a photo on Facebook the other day and it had me thinking about where a writer’s inspiration comes from. So, I decided to challenge myself and write a quick story for a random photo. These stories are not edited and rough, so keep that in mind. My goal is to get my brain working, not produce perfection. Thanks for looking. Here's my attempt at Sci-fi/fantasy. Yikes.

The desolation mocked me, echoing through my tired mind. Nothing of my life remained—nothing that mattered, anyway. The League considered me a deserter. My sentence was death, which didn’t seem so bad as long as the executioner was quick about it. I just might accept my fate, but I had more than my own needs to consider. Patrick needed me, and I needed to get home for the last time.

I don’t carry sentimentality as the other survivors do. Memories were a burden; a ploy the League used for their own gain. I’ve shut my recollections out for so long each picture blended together like a kaleidoscope of black and gray, save one. Locked away, deep within my mind, was the map to my home, the lavender smell of my mother’s hair, and the calloused touch of my father’s hand.

“Kira, are they going to find us?” Patrick tilted his head upward, his chestnut eyes regarding mine.

My mind instantly filled with images of the Keeper and his army. “Maybe, but we have to try.” I liked to spare him as much of the truth as I could, but he knew; he’d already seen far too much death to believe anything but pain would follow us. He also knew how determined the Keeper was to find me.

Patrick nuzzled his head against my shoulder. I drew him in, feeling the warmth of our bodies mingling. I thought he might drift to sleep; it’d been a long day of travel and his legs were half the length of mine, but his body refused to slacken. “Do your people have weapons?” he asked.

“Mmmhmm,” I answered, hoping it was enough. I hated the taste of lies, but such hope still permeated his young body. He returned his gaze to mine, searching for truth. I smiled and ran my hand over his matted hair. “I won’t let anyone hurt you. I promise.”

He stared off in the distance; the moons of Arlon greeted him from the east. I knew we only had four days to make it home before darkness swallowed our planet. And the darkness wasn’t kind to strangers, nor was the cold.

Patrick finally relinquished and fell asleep. I carefully laid him to the ground and covered him with a large finnola leaf. Its broad size would warm and protect him while I gathered food for our journey.

The scarcity of food had driven many people to do unspeakable things, but my mother and father taught me well in the art of gathering. Despite the bleakness of the land, there was always nourishment. I wandered through the abandoned and weather-beaten shacks, filling my bag with cardinal berries and everroot. Singly, they carried a bitter taste but when joined together they produced a flavor reminiscent of licorice.

With a few nuts and grasses added to my satchel, I made my way back to Patrick to claim as much sleep as my mind would allow. That’s when I saw them. I knew what they were immediately. Abris Domix. The Death Pods. The first thing my parents taught me about gathering was which plants to avoid—which produced pain or death not nourishment.

I bent down and carefully caressed the brittle plant in my hand, its crisp fibers warning me not to proceed. The look of it shouted of evil with its gray color and barbed stem. I shouldn’t have thought the things I was, but I knew there might come a time when promises of safety and security meant nothing. Patrick had witnessed the murders of his entire family at the hands of the army. I wouldn’t allow him to feel what his loved ones had experienced.

I cracked the pod open and cradled the tiny seeds in my palm. Their honey-like aroma filled the air, coaxing the bearer to savor in its sweetness. I closed my eyes and welcomed the scent, hoping the need to use the seeds would never come.


Elisabeth Hirsch said...

Very cool!

Angela Scott said...

Nice. Bravo. You can kick out some nice writing on the fly. Well done.