Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Snippet of my W.I.P.

This is a snippet from my current work:

The Girl With the Razor-Sharp Scythe

The clangor of the wake up bell roused me from a mere doze. I'd been exhausted, but the fear that my cell-mates would eat me in the night kept me awake for much of the night. Breakfast consisted of a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of water. No spoon to eat with. I would have kept mine, if we'd had them. I would have sharpened it to use later. We ate with our hands.
All too soon we heard the thugs coming back down the row. They opened the cages and shocked stragglers with what were probably cattle prods until they shambled into some semblance of a line. A woman stumbled and fell in front of me as we edged to the door. The trooper leaned down to shock her but I sprang in front of her.
“Cut it out,” I growled. “She just fell.”
“You want I should spark you too, lady?”
“Please. I need a pick-me-up. For some reason I’m so full of breakfast I just can’t seem to move.” I even said it in my best joking voice. I guess Mr. Happy didn’t get me, because he reached out with his taser stick and shocked me to my knees.
“Get up,” he yelled. I hated the names he then called me. They made me feel little and filthy.
I resolved never to favor him with my ready wit again. I climbed slowly to my feet. The whole thing had done what I wanted, though. The woman who fell was able to shuffle into line without another painful message. I caught a glimpse of her slight smile as we moved slowly down the line, awaiting our turn to board the big carrier trucks. I wondered how they got enough gas to move those suckers ten feet let alone clear out to fields beyond the city. How the heck had we missed their engine noise?
Finally it was my turn to be yanked up into the truck. The door slammed behind us, leaving us no escape, even if we could bring ourselves to jump out of a moving vehicle. I heard the lock clang into place, a death knell to my hopes.
The trucks drove up a long ramp for seemingly miles, the women swaying like sides of beef in a butcher’s van. No one spoke or even looked up. I opened my mouth to say something but the nearest cadaver woman glared to shut me up. 
After a while the ground leveled off. The truck continued driving for about forty-five minutes more, bouncing and jouncing over ruts and potholes and minor stones. A few times we stopped and then started up again, presumably to pick larger rocks out of the road. I remembered having to do the same thing ourselves.
At last we turned off and circled around, bouncing over the rough terrain. The vehicle stopped and our masters came around to open the back door. They slung us out into the chilly dawn, handing each of us a threshing hook and a bottle of water.
The woman I’d defended came up behind me and whispered, “That has to last you all day.”
I nodded my thanks and followed her out to a section of field. Each woman bent and began threshing and walking, making bundles of the ripe-eared wheat. I remembered something my grandma said once. I could picture her smiling at me, up to the elbow in bread dough. “Thracey, there are lots of things you can do with wheat. We used to chew the wheatberries for gum.”

Then she’d made me try it. At the time, I thought it was a far cry from Edge gum and turned down another mouthful. Not this time. Every so often I stripped the berries off a stalk and stuffed them in my mouth, chaff and all. I spit the chaff out as I walked. The guards frowned on talking. We wouldn’t have had much to say to each other anyway. Each of us wallowed in our own pit of despair. Except that I wasn’t that far gone yet. I looked for escape.
We threshed all day under a blistering sun. 
That one tiny bottle of water didn’t last long. Soon I was trying to drag the last smidgen of moisture from the bottom.

1 comment:

  1. Whoa, girl! What a beginning--my cell mates wouldn't eat me? lol You had me right there.