Thursday, February 10, 2011

O Children

When I'm writing, I have a tendency to do one of two things: I either write a very short (500 words or fewer) blurb about something, then never touch it again; or I get deeply invested in a story and spend years on it. I do have one or two story ideas that got to around 4-6 pages in length before I put them down indefinitely. I haven't finished much of anything. My short stories almost never get finished. In fact, I think the only story I have ever satisfactorily finished was the fanfiction I mentioned in entries previous.

That's quite a depressing thought.

The reason I mention any of this is that one of my incredibly short story "blurbs" has been on my mind recently. I called it "O Children," because it was inspired (vaguely) by the Nick Cave song of the same title. It's just something I sat down and wrote one evening out of sheer whimsy. I neither had nor have any back story for it, nor do I have any idea where I would continue on with it. Still, I can't stop thinking about it.

I'm guessing the reason it won't leave my head is that the content is somewhat different from what I usually gravitate towards. It feels urban and a little bit gritty. Dark. Not that I shy away from darkness, mind you. It's just that I'm usually firmly grounded in a "high fantasy" type setting. You know... cloaks, swords, forests. Sometimes pirates. Nerdy stuff. I'm not sure I could continue with the whole urban vibe - writing that way feels like wearing a jacket that doesn't fit quite right. It's a strange and hard-to-describe feeling. Despite that, I like the "O Children" scene very much. It makes me almost sad that I have no plans to finish it.

I'll let you see what I mean for yourself.

(Not that you'll necessarily like it as much as I do. I never can tell if I'm actually a decent writer, or if it's just wishful thinking.)

They were brought in single file, in silence, the children in their grubby undergarments. Jim watched them come dispassionately, silent as they. When the smallest of them - a dark-haired little pixie of a girl - fell, shivering, onto the concrete floor, he did not stir himself to lift her back onto her feet. What did it matter? These young things were but fodder for the beasts, already past hope, past saving. He could not bring himself to care for them.

The soles of their feet had already been cut. The pixie-girl - the last in line - had slipped in the trail of blood that her fellows left behind. The faded blue of her shabby bloomers was now stained crimson with it. Well and good. The smell of the blood would draw the beasts in faster; they could not resist fresh blood. Jim stared down at the line of tiny red footprints that stretched away across the pavement, at the redness seeping from the soles of the little girl's feet. It was all necessary, to draw the creatures in. The children with their mangled feet and drug-deadened eyes. Necessary evils. It was not his fault the job had fallen to him. It had to be done.

His fellows, the men who had brought the children to him, left now. They did not wish to be too near when the creatures arrived. Jim did not begrudge them their unease. He had been one of them, once. He, too, had wept for the childrens' fate. His own young son had been among the chosen only last year. A necessary evil. Other children could be had, had been produced. Would be sacrificed, if the need came. Anything to keep the creatures at bay.

It would not be long now before they scented the trail.

The little girl would not rise. She was still breathing - still living, sure enough - but she would not stand. The musty smell of urine hung about her now; she had wet herself in her fear. Blood and piss mingled together on the concrete, but she just laid there and shivered. Jim nudged her with the toe of his boot. She did not cry out, did not stir. The administered drugs had taken their hold.

He left her where she was, crossed the courtyard to climb into his usual place. His gun tapped against his hip as he ascended the ladder, reminded him why he was there as he climbed through the open shutters. They banged shut behind him, closing out the sickly green moonlight and the sound of the captive childrens' breathing. Only a sliver of the courtyard below remained within his sight, through the crack of crooked shutters. Enough to see the creatures come.

But they were already here.

And that is that.

When I read it, there are so many questions I know I could answer. What are the creatures? Where did they come from, and why? What's the setting? What is Jim's actual task - to feed the beasts? To observe? To kill? I know I could make a bigger story out of this little snippet, but... But what? I dunno. I feel like I already have One True Novel that I'm supposed to be writing, and to work on anything else would be plain old betrayal.

Also, the urban thing I mentioned earlier. I just don't like writing urban fantasy. I don't much like reading it either. No real clue why. Maybe I should just get over it?

Ah well. I should probably head off to sleep. It's late.

Comments/feedback on the writing would be welcome, if anyone is actually reading this.

EDIT: I did get a short, short review about the blurb, which I felt like sharing, despite the fact that it was not 100% positive (which I would have loved, lol):

Your excerpt is interesting. I like how it opens and the detail about the soles of the feet. For me, several lines in this passage are redundant, so I would trim it down. Good luck!

I re-read it and saw what he meant immediately. Some of the repetition was for emphasis, and some was just plain unnecessary. Even though I was unhappy to have done something "wrong," I was glad to have that outside view, to see things I maybe wouldn't have noticed myself. It'll help in the future. Hopefully.

No comments:

Post a Comment