Fourth Fiction: Round Five

Fourth Fiction Challenge 5

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Round 5 Challenge: Incorporate this image into your next passage of no more than 500 words. You can interpret this challenge as you see fit.

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Marcus kicked the snow away to reveal a piece of iron and a rope coiled around the base of a pole. No wishing well here.

Sylvie could make out dome shapes close by and wondered if all the dwellings were the adobe style of the Birth House. She wondered about the Others. Where they lived. What they did.

How human they were?

The frenzied red eyes glaring through the wind screen came back to her and she shivered. One bite and she would be just like them.

“Let’s go,” Marcus said, having filled both buckets and replaced the iron. He set off retracing their steps, which had all but disappeared into the snow when they arrived back at the wall of the Birth House.

“Marcus -” Sylvie went to touch his arm as he set down the buckets at the wall but stopped herself. “Why are the O negatives spared?”

“You assume it is a curse to have been changed.”

“I ..”

Marcus slid the section of the wall open but Sylvie refused to follow.

“What’s the science behind what happened here? Why did the renegade virus not affect everyone?”

Marcus put the buckets down in the courtyard.

“When the virus mutated it attached to the rhesus antigens A, B and D in the blood.”

“The O negative blood group had nothing for the virus to bind to,” Sylvie said stepping into the wall. “What was the original virus?”

“A rage virus with a 90 day infectious period.”

Sylvie shook her head and walked into the compound. There was a labouring woman who needed her. The past was the past. She could do nothing to change it. Only the present and future were malleable.

While Marcus rigged up the makeshift shower Sylvie revisited the words in the birthingroom – the reaction to the two heart beats. It was then she realized the most important piece of equipment for this birth remained in her car.

“I need you to go back for my other bag,” Sylvie said, undressing and ignoring the way Marcus looked at her.

– – – – –

He left Mutt with Sylvie and set out on foot. Marcus had no fear of the Others. They were distracted by Mutt because the dog was unknown, he on the other hand was well known to them. Only the temptation of Sylvie had bought them so close on the way to the well.

The car remained abandoned and intact. Before he retrieved the bag, Marcus went through the car looking for Sylvie’s identification. He could’ve lied to himself and said he wanted to know because the Elders had blackmailed him for his help but it was far more than that. He’d felt it when she touched him.

Under the seat he found her wallet.

The first punch came with the surname on her driver’s license. The second when Dr Johaanson stared at him from a time soften cardboard square, one eye on him and the other ahead to the future.

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4 thoughts on “Fourth Fiction: Round Five

  1. Holly crap Jodi, your use of the photo was unbelievable. I like everything about this. Especially that last line; a very powerful ending.

    You gave us some tantalizing pieces of information about Marcus. I can’t wait to see how he develops.

    Somehow you are able to give us more than one cliff hanger. This is really shaping up to be something great. In a way I’m glad you are an outside participant. That way we can stay with your story to the end.

    The only question I have is regarding the “time soften cardboard square” I’m not getting the reference, photograph perhaps?

    It’s probably me just being thick, I’m only two cups of coffee in this morning.
    ~chris

  2. I think I shall employ you Chris as my personal cheer squad (pom poms and short skirts optional of course!) This was the first thing I read as I sat down to prepare (begrudingly!) to compose my Write Anything column for tomorrow.

    I was worried when I wrote this, that it was far too stripped back. Even though I’m not a big fan of descriptive narrative, I do like a few of the writing tricks which utlise some descriptive narrative- but to get the story across I’ve had to lay aside the embellishments. So I am glad it worked for you.

    The question about the time softened cardboard square – yes it is a photo – but not on photgraphic paper. I have an idea about what it is all about but don’t want to reveal anything at this point. It might be a spoiler. Marcus WAS going to reveal something about it but the wordcount prevented me – which sounds like it was a plus rather than a negative.

    And thanks also for saying it is a bonus for the reader that I wont be voted off and the story stopped. I am hoping to use this towards a word count for a publishing project for next year being run by Affirm Press – a collection of short stories and novella (I guess a bit like the one Dean Koontz had put together years ago) … so all crits taken seriously!

    Thanks finally for your thoughts on who the man in the picture might be … I’m turning them around in my head and wondering if they might fit – given I haven’t said who Dr Johaansen is.

    (And what’s with the potentially evil South Afrikan doctors in my writing! At least I didn’t steal this dude from Paul like I did with Doctor Pietersen last year.)

  3. Sorry it’s taken me so long to get round to comment. I did read this earlier this week, but things here have been hectic and I wanted to have a second read before I commented. Again, this week you manage to tell us a fair amount about the world of your story through the characters dialogue. A lot going on, what with the govt. control of births, the virus mutations and the Others, but you juggle them well within the word count.

    I like the stripped back feel of the prose here. You let the reader decide what the emotional stimulus is behind a lot of the action. I like being made to work. The closing section with the pov shift feels right. The hints you give about Marcus whet the appetitite for the next installment. Is he presenting a true picture of himself to Sylvie? What’s so important about her surname? Looking forward to seeing the story develop further.

  4. Jodi, the interest remains high. One problem though, if I am not mistaken, in the last round you said that if she had been O negative they would have killed her but in this round you have her asking why the O negatives are spared??
    Still reading on!

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