Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Prompt: Security guard, graffiti writer, guilt

Adam turned the corner, then ducked back out of sight. A graffiti writer was spray-painting his message on the border wall.

Feed Our Children

He was painting children underneath the words, and Adam was mesmerized by the economy of motion he used, the simple lines to create such clear faces. Big eyes, hollow cheeks, a study in desperation. Adam should stop him, arrest him. He put his hand on his baton, but did not pull it free of the holster. He was imagining his own child’s face on that wall.

A cry from the far tunnel sent the vandal racing toward Adam. He struggled with his need to perform his duty, step forward, catch the young man, or step back and let him pass. Still frozen in his internal crisis, he didn’t move from the fleeing man’s path, and they collided in the tunnel, just out of the other guard’s sight. Adam could hear him running across the open border space, shoes echoing heavily on the metal flooring.

Adam grabbed the vandal’s arm, swung him back against the wall. He was a kid himself, still wearing a teen’s wristband. Some parent was waiting for their own child to come home safe this night. Adam shook him. “Are you crazy? You know the penalty for insurrection?”

The teen hit his head against the wall. “Go ahead,” he hissed. “Arrest me.” Bravado.

Adam could see the fear in the wide white of his eyes, smell it in his acrid sweat. He dropped the boy’s arm and stepped back. “Go to Mellie’s in the morning. You know it?”

Everyone knew his sister’s kitchen. The boy nodded.

“Ones or twos. Back door. She’ll have food. Go now. Fast!”

The boy’s eyes widened even further, but he didn’t hesitate to sprint away down the tunnel. Adam pulled out his baton and shouted “Stop! Patrol! Stop!” He listened for the running steps behind him and started running after the boy as soon as the other guard turned the corner into the tunnel. Adam bent over as if winded. “Damn, he was fast! Where’d he come from” he questioned the guard, who stopped near him, glaring into the dark, empty tunnel.

“Damn vandal. I’ll report it. Did you get a look at him?”

“Naw, he barreled into me before I knew what hit me. You okay?”

The other guard spat on the metal floor. “Yeah,” he said with disgust. He flipped open his tel-link. “Patrol report. Vandal scene at Border 5. Cleanup. No arrest.”

Adam stood straight and nodded to the guard, one he knew only by face, not even by name. There were more guards than workers, these days. They still couldn’t control the insurrection. They knocked batons together, then headed in opposite directions. The guard continued down the tunnel, though he knew as well as Adam the boy was long gone.

Adam walked out into the border space and tried not to look at the graffiti while he crossed to the opposite tunnel. He thought he should probably send Mellie a message to start cooking a little extra in the morning…

Dogs in house

Time writing
~30 minutes, interrupted

February word count


  1. Writing report:
    Novel editing, Ch24, spot edits Ch21, Ch25

    Time: ~30 min

  2. Great characterisation, and of a very complex character! Good word building, too. You are very skilled at showing little pieces that build up to a larger picture -- that's one of my weak points, so I hope I can learn from your examples, here.