Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Prompt: There shouldn’t be a light there

Thanks to Martin for permission to use his beautiful image “1_landscape_speedpaint”!

Artimus planted his staff in the hard-packed sand and closed his eyes enjoying the sound of the surf and the warm water rushing over his leather-tough feet. Winter in the Southern Blade had cost him two toes as he made his way down the eastern coast to Miami. In all that time, he hadn’t been able to get this close to the ocean; the shore territories were strictly guarded.

It was up in old Ponte Vedra he’d first heard about the lighthouse. Every person he met after that asked if he’d seen the light. No one knew who, what, how, or why; but everyone sure was excited about it.

Finally, he met an old geezer like himself, a walker who’d been all over the country. Todd used to ride, but he kept getting beaten up and his horse stolen. He’d finally gotten wise that a walking man was a poor target. They’d spent three days company comparing notes on their travels, welcome spots, and danger zones. Artimus was on the verge of thinking they might team up for awhile when they reached Vero Beach.

He was used to looking for abandoned houses to squat in for a night or two. He hadn’t expected they’d find a young couple with two little kids. He’d have offered to help the dad hunt something with a little more meat to last them a few weeks. He sure didn’t expect old Todd to knock out the young man with his cudgel and clamber on top of the young woman before any of them came to their senses.

Artimus pulled him off her and bruised him pretty good with his staff, making it clear he wasn’t to come back and bother them again. He hadn’t expected gratitude, exactly. The woman couldn’t stop crying. She tugged on her husband’s arm until he woke up, then they skedaddled out, even though it was full dark.

Artimus let them go. He felt guilty that he missed Todd. He was even a little angry at them for getting Todd so worked up. He felt more guilty about that. He knew it hadn’t always been like that. He’d never forced himself on a woman.

Dogs in house
Houdini, Brindle

Time writing:
~45 minutes, interrupted

October word count:


  1. Prompt: There shouldn’t be a light there

    The ancient towers stood along the small headland, stone edifaces rising out of the morning fog and reaching for the sky. Helar jabbed his staff into the sand and squinted at the third and farthest one. There shouldn’t be a light there.

    But there was, painting the fog a bright yellow and seemingly emanating from the tip of a barely-seen spire. The waves at his feet sounded muted, as if the fog were a blanket absorbing their sound. He almost expected the light to make a sound, too; he could imagine what it would be, a light buzzing, also softened by the fog.

    “Believe me now?” Marki trotted up, far too energetic for this subdued morning, and stood with hands on her hips. Her grey skirts swayed in the shore breeze; the beads on her wrists tinkled, the sound too sharp.

    Helar nodded. “It’s only with the fog?”

    “Yes,” Marki said. Her beads tinkled again. “Do you know what it is?”

    Helar shook his head. Because it couldn’t possibly be the ancients returning to the towers they had abandoned before memory. It couldn’t.

    Time writing: 15 minutes

    1. As usual, you get to the meat of it for more quickly than I do! I especially like the descriptive graph about Marki. Nicely done!

  2. Some kind of post-apocalyptic setting? Took a little while to orient to, but probably from expectations not the writing. Nice flavour to the narrator.