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March 11th, 2006, 02:03 PM

Winds howled … Thunder rolled across the blackening sky piercingly as if summoned to witness the imminent storm. A pair of jagged flashes of lighting momentarily illuminated the rugged mountain on the horizon, but it was quickly engulfed again by the darkness.

The fall of rain … the amassing of heavy clouds … the blaze of fiery flashes framing a deathly chorus of tortured voices that left an edge as sharp as a blade on the night. Gales swept violently across the grasslands and across the restless surface of the lake, the unfolding tempest in the sky pushing them into unkindly waves of turmoil.

A woman stopped … glanced behind, clutching a bundle of seared cloth tighter to her convulsing chest and rushed into the long grass.

Screams of anguish and torment echoed in her ears, making her feel nauseous. She listened among the shrill cries and discerned the voice of her husband ordering an attack on the things that had attacked their village so savagely. Rooftops flared a scarlet brightness. She could still feel the heat of the inferno on her burnt and blistered skin. Smoke billowed out of every window in grey spiral crafted clouds, choking the phosphorescent aura that hung over the houses.

She dived into a group of rushes by the lakes edge, kept her head low, breath shallow, and then there was the sound of a colossal battle breaking out between men and the things – if you would dare call them such. In truth, they were a machine of war – a terrible iron fist in the darkness, casting shadows like that of malignant spirits.

They would never cease their relentless hunt – and that is why they would not lose tonight – why they would not stop until they had in their grasp what they had been sent out to destroy.

The bundle of sodden fabric wept softly to itself within the folds.

But they would not find it. She would die first.

Her head bled badly but she simply wiped away the claret flow that had stained her cheek, and, fighting back the black spots in her eyes, leaned down and left a warm kiss on the forehead of her only child.

They’d come so fast, she thought, and all at once, like a wave the shape of darkness itself. And it had overwhelmed the village in one go, devouring the light and life of everything near like one large mouthful.

She watched weakly as more images arose from the night. Figures that were climbing out of the shadows took shape right before her eyes. Concussion had already taken over her mind; the acid in her stomach, already unsettled, turned rancid, and she shuddered back the terror and tried to close her mind to the sickening whimpers of slow extermination.

Too soon, the uproar of war – survival, died away, falling into haunting notes in the wind that would continue to repeat the impending storm in the sudden gathering of darkness until the rain had completely washed the blood away.

Thrown into a sea of emotional agony, she looked down hopelessly at her child, who seemed almost innocent in the absence of light. The hunt had begun again. Quickly, and without time to think, she lifted an object from around her neck and wrapped it in the folds encasing the little one.

‘Be brave now, my dear one,’ she whispered. ‘Be brave and be silent; you will one day again remember this place – this night. Never, must you forget who you are. My beloved one, you are Hope, not the shadow it leaves behind.’

Pulling down the reeds feverishly, she concealed it … crying.

‘I will see you again, my love,’ she wept. ‘I will see you again … when you are grown. To you, I pledge this.’

Then she clambered to her feet, swaying a little over loss of blood, and began to run … to run fast.

The child sobbed softly in the gales, alone, but the object touching its skin felt warm and homely.

The air vibrated as a flaming bolt sliced through the night with an iridescent glow.

I will see you again …

There was a short shallow scream of a woman … and then silence.

Real silence … Not just the absence of sound, but the sound of oblivion.

The baby listened. Then, yawning, it closed its eyes and fell fast asleep.

Blue Tide
March 11th, 2006, 08:12 PM
Nice imagery. You draw me in and make me want to know what is going to happen to the baby, why she was running, and what were the things battling.

A couple of points. Some of your sentence constructions were a bit wordy and I got tripped up in them. For example, this sentence should probably be split up into two sentences:

She dived into a group of rushes by the lakes edge, kept her head low, breath shallow, and then there was the sound of a colossal battle breaking out between men and the things Ė if you would dare call them such.

Also let us into the mind of the woman Ė her inner thought process of why she decided to leave her child and the inner turmoil she must have felt about leaving a completely defenseless child alone amidst such danger. Why did she deem it necessary to leave her child? She must have been very worried about her husband. Tell us how that felt. The water around the rushes felt.

Lastly, itís a bit of a nit, but itís enough to trip me up. The baby probably wouldnít fall asleep in the middle of a storm and all the commotion when its mother was away. Did the amulet sooth the child? Maybe her purpose was so great that she was willing to leave the child. Did she see her husband about to be slaughtered by these things and ran to help?

Itís a great start and a good hook. Keep it up!!

-- Curtis