Saturday, January 15, 2011

Show vs. Tell Blogfest

The day's arrived for Misty's blogfest. Return to her page to view all the entries from our participants.

I also didn't have time to write a second scene for the TELL half of this blogfest. So, my story for the SHOW portion will have to do. It's a bit over 1,000 words. Enjoy!


I remember Howard’s bark even after I had closed the door on him. Poor, stupid mutt didn’t know any better. I just let him be. For me, I needed to take a walk.

The fashionable gray sidewalk outside my building had no walkers today. Even the weeds pouring from the stairs to my door seemed more lively than the streets. The landlord hadn’t made taking care of the building his duty in over a year now. Can’t blame the guy. The Veratin picked him up a month ago, I think, saying something about his loyalties.

Shit, my loyalties weren’t to them. They don’t know that, though. I made it my duty after to his to make sure the buildings occupants had some care, perhaps even some hope. When the “V” came for them too, one by one, that’s when I kept my door locked. All the locks: three bolts and two chains across the frame. And one rusted jalopy of a sliding bolt that sunk into the floorboards. I put a chair there for good measure. I can see the nasties faces barging into my place. Past the bells and whistles, all my locks, and they look at the chair sitting before them. I’d like to think I could laugh in their faces as they dragged me away.

Bet you’re asking yourself why I’m walking to the lake, right? Waving your hands, gray faced screaming, “The V are gonna’ swipe you up, you old coon.” Yell all you want. I bet the V been watching me for some time. They know they didn’t get all those people outta’ the city. After the hammer went down, that nice hole opened up in the middle of the block. Wide as three tractor trailers, going as deep and black as my eyes.

I walked to the end of the road, staring yards ahead of me where the evidence of the hammer was. Took my time getting there, stick in hand and bag looped on my arm. A lady doesn’t forget her bag, even if they send all the nasties to your door to get you. Might be going to the grave, but I’ll have my mirror, some mints and a Reader’s Digest.

I stared at the hole, shaking my head. They came down in the hammer and walked the streets just like that. Immune to all things we tried, they told us the conditions were right for their arrival. The hammer destroyed that nice block where my flower shop was: my mother’s shop I should say. Damn V. The block was painted with our flowers. Geraniums, tall white tulips with the longest stems, roses and daisies. Arrangements were her thing, her fingers supple from handling nature. That’s the memory.

But, I’d be damned if I let that shop go to waste after the hammer. Still got the keys to it. Used it as a safe house some days. When they thought they had us all, thought they cleaned
the houses, I took us there. Barred us in, I did. Then they really did take them all. The V made sure of it. Came down the streets, took fire to the houses. Blew out the windows.

I passed those houses, thinking of them. Wonder if they made friends with the V, or took the shackles to their necks? I stepped around the hammer ground. The pavement heaved up and out, smoldering still on some days when it rained. The power they had to crack the earth: guess it always stays around. My stick clattered on the uneven ground and I took rod up in my hand, waving the handle like a baton. A piece of the road hung dangerously over me. I tapped on it.

Would have been helluva’ way to go after surviving.

I thought nothing more of the hammer ground and came to the shop windows. They, too, were remnants only. Fine glass mounds, like pixie dust, piled inside on the shelves and floor. No matter what I had gone through, coming to Ma’s shop always brought something terrible back to me. I held in fiery tears and a congested nose. I looked down the shelves where her art had been displayed, but only the shining dust remained.

And something else. A soft, cotton-candy flower, its tiny peddle breathing some of the light from outside. I smiled and dug into the glass mound. When I pulled it out, I dusted the surface with a gentle finger, like Ma had taught me. The fire in my eyes came back heavier now, but I was good at holding it in. Instead, I prayed to her, soaking in the baby flower’s precious life source, and tucked it away into my coat pocket. I kept on for the lake.

The light skimming over the perfect, gray surface defined serenity. That is till I saw the sky. The buildings hid the truth the deeper in Center Danbrook you lived, but it had been there for a while. Violent maroon swirls, mocking the good sun, took refuge where clouds once lived.

My bench was just ahead, not a stone’s throw from the shore line. Something crawled through the husky red and where others might mistake it as a glider, I knew a warship when I saw one. Another hammer, this one ready to park its metal carcass just over the mountain rise. I sat, watching the show as it prepped for the finale. It had been coming for weeks now, pushing past the baby hammers. The clouds broiled unsavorily like water on an untended stove and “mamma hammer” greeted me. Lonesome, little me, sitting on the bench.

Couldn’t see me, ‘course. But if they could, I’d smile. Might even wave at the V. Give em’ a whistle, show em’ what a survivor looks like.

Caring about me was the farthest thing from their minds now. The glimmer of gold in the maroon said as much. The last clouds dissolved as the hammer charged itself and the gold was like a long awaited Christmas present. It is that day, after all. Jesus carry me up, I thought. A clap of thunder rocked the lake into swift ripples. The force of wind pushed my back to the bench, but I kept my grin.

I patted my chest pocket, thinking of the flower, and spoke to Ma. Hammer or not, I said to her, I’m ready.


  1. Wow, Justin. Great job with the vivid details!!

    I'm impressed with both you and Jodi for coming up with such wonderful story lines for this picture. Usually a story about something like the "V" wouldn't really be my thing, but this one kept me reading to the end.

  2. Sooooo good Justin! So, so good. I, too, loved the details. Patting the flower in the pocket at the end and talking to his mom? Ugh. Sad. Thanks for entering.

  3. That was a good job. You guys put so much backstory into your selections... crafting full on narratives surrounding the pictures. Excellent writing.

  4. This is fabulous Justin. You really brought the whole world to life.

    Really enjoyed it - I could see this in Strange Horizons no problem.


  5. @Dominic de Mattos: Thanks for the compliment, Dom. I was thinking the same thing actually. I've never been a short writer, but I really like the way this turned out. Might try submitting it at a later date.

  6. Very wonderful little story you have here. Love the voice and descriptions. Gread job.


  7. Cool. I felt like I was walking the streets with her. I loved the line about a lady never leaving home without her bag. Such an excellent detail, I could just see her in allt he rubble, dress to the hilt with her purse on her arm.

    Beautiful picture. You did it justice.


  8. Justin, you should think about writing shorts. This had a richness to it that made it feel complete. I loved the details too!

  9. Nice!!! Great wordpainting, showing us what she's seeing, what's she's assosciating with it.

    Also a cool way to interpret the picture!!

  10. Great entry! The details were wonderfully spun into the piece. You kept me wanting more right up to the last word.


  11. Great piece. I enjoyed the line about the lady's handbag too, great observation. :O)


"Little by Little, One Goes Far." -- J.R.R Tolkien.

I believe this as a philosophy, from a man who saw war and setback, and conquered all to bring us the greatest fantasy series that has ever been published. Leave your little comment and I'll get back to you.