How to End the Thing …

It’s a difficult time. We (two teams of two writer-peeps) are finalising stories, but one of them is being difficult – we don’t know how to give the final picture.

One option is to have the main character (MC) drive past the same place she drove into town, see the gate that closes the place off now, and a sign that says (among other things): Danger: Toxic Seep – Do Not Enter!

But it’s the arid zone. There are no places in the story where there are sludges and seeps, there are no bits where stuff oozes from the ground!

It’s a no go. But we can’t find a way to end it if we don’t do something like that.

Let me give you some background (not the whole story!).

MC has run away from her fate and her last remaining family (Grandmother). She’s bought a house, sight unseen, in a remote country town. This might be a chance for peace, but no – it’s where she meets the mortal enemy. Again.

You see, you can’t outrun yourself; fate always finds you because it’s in you. After much suffering and learning and fighting back, MC shows how she’s learned her lessons well enough to be able to take on the nemesis – but it might just cost her own life. Well, that’s just the way it goes when you have a story like this (the genre would probably be classified as urban fantasy, but if you consider it’s really rural or outback, maybe I should call it ‘outback fantasy’) – in the end is the choice to ‘do or die’.

And, of course, I can’t tell you the actual ending, but the denouement, the final wrapping up moment – what can we do with that?

I want to have the sign, but with different connotations; just something that says ‘Don’t Go There’. My colleague wants more, bigger, mucho impact.

The question for both of us is this: What is Best for the Story?

How will the denouement affect the reader? Which take on the final drive-by will leave the most lingering impression? What will the emotional impact be? Is that what we want the reader to experience?

The questions are simple, really, but the answers are being difficult.

What do we do?

Well, I suggested we do an interview of the characters to see how they would like to ‘see’ the end of their story.

My counterpart said we should do two endings, and get some beta readers to give us their take on what it meant to them at that point.

The problem is we can’t agree on which two endings, because now that we have those two, there are several more that just might be better than those two, and if we give only two choices to the beta readers, shouldn’t they be the best two choices?

The discussion rages on …


the house

Alone Again … Naturally

Day after day, week after week, month after month … This is where I sit, where I work, where I place all my values and dreams and … write. It would be a solitary business, but the people I create and speak to each day are much better than the real thing.

Really.

I tell stories. Usually in long form, a novel or epic. Sometimes, little ideas pop up and I play with them for a bit, work on the structure of it before it gets put to bed in the Wheel of Fortune. These are my friends, the people in the middle of a story who want me to speak for them. I am their orator.

My legs don’t work so well, and walking or running or swimming or sailing are things I can only dream about. But my characters can do those things for me. I can experience their lives for a short time each day. I can live their lives with them.

Rain pours over the window in sheets so heavy it’s impossible to see the garden edge less than a metre away, but as I enter into the world of story, I am back where I want to be – somewhere warm and dry, where the eagles soar and insects scritch their sounds into the stillness of the air.

I don’t hear the voices of other people, but I can have long and meaningful conversations with my peeps on the page. Their conversations are more real than the meaningless drivel spoken at me by the softer, more carbon-based entities.

Is it abandonment that has led me here, to this lonely tower in a castle of my own making? Am I rejecting the world before it rejects me – again?

Is it fear of total abandonment that led me into the pages of story?

No. The stories were always there, the characters were always there. I was one child in a family of eight. But in the midst of the chaos, I was alone. Except in my mind.

I didn’t see a book until we left the country and moved to a town. The school had a library. It became my safe place. I couldn’t take books home, though, because someone would chuck them out, call the books names. Maybe she knew the influence they had on me; maybe not.

On opening a page, I recognised the story-mind. I was home, at peace. A mindful creature who wasn’t alone in the crowd anymore. Free to be me.


Copyright Cage Dunn 2017

  • and now I can get back to the serious work of story-telling …

 

 

 

Not His Name!

Everyone called him Willy, but when his mum heard that she’d yell like a banshee. “That’s not his name!” she’d scream, again and again, even after we’d all disappeared into whatever woodwork was available.

It’s true, his name wasn’t Willy, but why would a normally sensible sane and normal woman call her son Willy-Nilly?

That’s the question all the adults asked of it. They always muttered behind her back when she called him that in front of anyone, imitated the way she said ‘thees’ instead of ‘this’ and ‘hees’ instead of ‘his’. Apparently, she was a furriner but we’d never seen her wear any.

Did anyone have the courage to actually ask the question?

Yes.

One person. Me.

I walked up to her front door and knocked.

When she answered, I asked if Willy could come out to play.

Her response was as it usually is: she screamed at me “That’s not his name.”

So I asked her what his name was.

She said “Willy-Nilly.”

“Why?” I asked, feeling as if it was missing something.

“Because that’s his father’s name. William Neely Butshiel. And this one is the same, but Junior, and the family tradition is to say the whole name, not the part name.” She turned to go. “There will be no part-name hooligans in this bloodline, thank you very much.”

Now, me being a kid and all, I didn’t know what she was talking about, so I asked a bigger kid. I asked Syd.

“She’s a blue-blood, me dad says, but come on hard days.”

And that’s all that was said. I mean, kids don’t need to know what things mean, surely. We can pick things up in our own way, make our own deductions about what things mean, and why people say them, can’t we?

And we did.

Willy still got called Willy; his mum got called Batshit Bushell; his dad got called bloody hooligan.

That’s how kids understand.

Unless adults think to consider that kids have an active and productive mind, and can imagine all too well what things are for themselves, these things will always happen.

Us kids, we turned Willy into a proper-speaking gent with the sound of our town, and his mum, eventually, stopped yelling at the world when she heard it.

Mind you, she didn’t much come outta her house anymore. Maybe it was the way everyone stared at her, like she didn’t belong, or was strange.

My mum said she’d come from better digs, had a better life before, and she said the strangest thing: “There but for the Grace of God …”

I didn’t understand that bit, but I’d see my mum leaving a flower or two on the front porch for Willy’s mum sometimes, and she’d wave at the door, even if no one ever came out anymore.


Copyright Cage Dunn 2017

The Prod

[part of SoCS]

If Inni had to guess who broke in, she’d say it was the lout down the road. The tall one with the ragged dreadlocks who looked like he was starving. The one who hid behind the bales of hay any time someone even walked past.

She’d had enough of people pinching her stuff, and she was going to sort it out right bloody now! Her arms swung high and hard as she marched down the long dusty driveway of her small farm. The swirl of dusties followed her like the steam from a train.

The old house, condemned according to Pete, once belonged to the only people Inni liked in the community – apart from Pete, of course, but he was a relly, and that didn’t count, did it?

The timber steps were almost rotted all the way through, the porch worse, but Inni stepped up and leaned in to rap on the door.

“I wouldn’t do that,” the deep voice said. “If you want to see me, come out back.”

Inni spun around but saw no one. Looked up. A vid screen. A security camera on each side of the porch, each disguised as webs, with the eye-hole in the very centre. Just like a terranius trap-door spider.

Careful steps backward and a tight grip on the rail and she was back on terra firma. The air rushed out of her lungs in a gush.

“You here about your stuff?”

Inni reached out her hand to the very tall, very dark, very fit young man. His hand stayed by his side, and she let her fingers change shape until she was pointing at the camera on that side of the porch.

“Did you see who it was?” she said.

“Yep. Wanna guess?”

“No, wanna know!” Bloody hell, why did people do that?

“Because you have expectations of others that you don’t have for yourself.”

“What?”

“You said-”

“I didn’t say – I thought!”

“Same thing, in my world.”

Oh, shit. What had she let herself in for?

“My name is Inni,” she said as she stretched out her arm again.

He stepped back.

“And this is the part where you tell me your name and we shake hands and pretend to be courteous.” Bloody hell, just how long had this guy been out of the world of social structures?

“A long time,” he said.

“And speak to what I said, not what I thought!” Inni yelled. “I’m not a Denaiad, even if you are!”

“How do you …” he stepped forward. “Doesn’t matter.” He stepped closer and put his warm, slightly calloused hand in hers. “My name here, for this journey, is -”

Black clouds erupted overhead. Lightning struck the air between their hands, extended to the earth and erupted energy back upwards.

Inni felt herself fly backward through the air, waited for the crash landing. It didn’t come. Two large hands gripped her by the shoulders and gently lowered her to the ground.

“Apparently, I’m not allowed to give you my real name – even if you do know what I am – so you should call me Avi.”


copyright Cage Dunn 2017 – a piece of Stream of Consciousness #SoCS Aug 2017 – https://lindaghill.com

the house

 

 

 

Primary Source

Two events, it would seem from the post-event interviews – but no, it’s one event seen through many eyes. One side of the team saw the A story, the other team saw the B story.

Perception: it’s how the past creates and shapes what we see and feel and understand today. Discourse [how we communicate, learn, share, be] creates and shapes perception. It’s the same thing as saying: we learn from our history/community; we are what we came from, etc.

Or not.

Two people from the same family, the same school, the same community. One follows the Way of the Past, one steps Away and becomes Other. Different. The Black Sheep.

That person has organised their life, their history, to an outcome that is more purposeful than the norm. A choice has been made, and once made, must be forged. It takes courage and determination to step away from what is expected.

And it takes an expectation of being alone and separate from the norm of their history.

I speak from experience.

Where I come from, education isn’t necessary because ‘Who needs to know that?’ is how it was spoken of. To marry and produce children was essential – I didn’t want that [I did take on a few foster kids – 32 in all] because I don’t think a person should just because they can [nor do I climb mountains ‘because it’s there’]. I moved out of the family ‘location’ as soon as I could use my thumb [not that I had much choice, really, considering the mater kicked me out onto the streets at a young age anyway – ‘trouble-makers aren’t welcome here!].

I went out into the world.

It was scary. Living alone with the perceptions I had now to create for myself. The needs I had to learn I had to meet. The knowledge required to be more than I was. To be what I wanted to be, what I dreamed I could be.

It was hard. How can an underage [and scruffy] kid get anything?

What was the first lesson?

How to survive – yes, that was first and toughest. But then it came down to how to ‘read’ people.

Why? Because it’s only through community that we survive. Knowing who is going to hurt you or take things from you is critical. And so is recognising the people who are willing to share their knowledge, their paths, their food. [Not going to share how to ‘read’ – another lesson: we learn only through the doing of the thing.]

There are people in the world who are saints but are never recognised as such. There are people who rise to the top of hundreds of people’s hearts and they never know it.

And there are people who – we’ve all met them – think they are beyond the scrap-heap of the humans who litter the streets. These are the people who believe that if the street is swept often enough, the world will be fine. Closed eyes, closed mind. The people who impose their will on others and say ‘be like me’ to be ‘right’.

Well, you know what? My life lessons, though hard, are worth what I went through. My run-in with ‘discourses’ of life have made me a better person, a person who can share and feel and be – and that’s exactly what I wanted when I left that place so long ago.

Free to make choices that matter.


the-hole-of-the-eye

Look in the Mirror …

And what do you see? Is it the real you, or a stranger?

I look in the mirror, and what do I see? A person I know, but a face I don’t. I mean, that person wears glasses, has that growly look, humps one shoulder more forward than the other – and shorter in reality than …

In my dreams, I don’t need glasses to see – I see it all; in my dreams I can run, I can dance, I can swim, I can fly.

In my dreams the person I am is more real than that person in the mirror.

I walk past again, and the carousel of mirrors shows a different aspect each time; is it still the same me?

This one, with the chin jutted forward, aggressive, the eyes furtive, cautious, the mind swirling with fears and antagonism.

The next one, the half-smile, the glasses on the end of the nose – reading? Oh, that’s why the smile.

Turn the corner, pluck at that vision – is it me? Or a stranger?

What is it that I recognise about this face?

The shape, although it has changed over the years, less defined, less sell-able; what about the shape of the brows? They too have changed over the years – shaped and managed until the question mark of the right brow has been diminished, and people don’t look so shocked when they look into those eyes.

The skin colour, not a true reflection of self, and it too has changed over the years. Once, it was used to make pretty pictures that other people liked, smiled at, appreciated. It was smoother, with no scars or ridges or patchy bits or raggedy butterfly shapes across the nose and cheeks – once the skin was a honey-brown colour.

The hair, once so lovely and thick, a lush deep colour of browns with highlights of sun-bleached blondes and a touch of fire. Now, it doesn’t quite cover the scalp, growing it long only makes the gaps on said scalp wider and more noticeable, and every day the brushing or combing leaves more on the tool than on the head. The crowning glory is no more.

But, in my dreams, I am the real me. I can run and jump, dance and sing (and not sound like a caterwauling cat in a fight with a donkey), fly and dive. I am free of the constraints of bad eyes, bad skin, bad hair – I am me.


Copyright Cage Dunn 2017 – me

Don’t Do It!

Suffer the consequences of the lurgy alone in your room – don’t be a martyr; don’t get up and work on your words. You will be sorry. You will delete every little bit you did. You will destroy the confidence you had in the story line.

You will be sick longer.

When the words become too casual, too ‘not quite right’ – slide the chair out, take the drugs appropriate to the condition, and Go Back To Bed!

‘Cos that’s what happened. I got sick. Not good. But I was so close to finishing off the serious bit of that particular play up to the major turning point. I suffered through a whole day of writing ‘stuff’ – and then, this morning, I read it.

The scream is still playing in my ears. The voice of the story is gone. It is as dull and thick headed as a ‘flu head can be. It is wrong. It is bad. It is not ‘the’ story.

What do you think I had to do? Yep. Back to the scene outline, back to the place where I began those stupidly moronic attempt at words that came from a head that didn’t have a sensible thought in it – and deleted it.

Well, not really.

After I’d read a few para’s of what I’d written, I went back to the previous version.

That’s why versioning is so critical.

Because if you do something silly (like trying to think you can think when you have ‘flu), you can hide the version you did it in, and go back to the one from the day before.

And start again.

Presuming the head is still solid in the way it can deal with the needs of the story.

And I can tell, even now, that this is not the case. Words fly by – they should mean something, but they don’t – what was I talking about? Oh, yes.

A clear head, a defined pattern of thoughts, a clarity in the direction of the story and the characters within it – that’s what’s needed. And if that’s what I don’t have, I should just have that hot drink, take that drug – if I can remember which one is appropriate – and go back to bed.

Will I do that? It is raining; there is a storm outside; it would be nice to snuggle up under a warm doona with a dog to keep me warm …. but the dog doesn’t like to sleep on the bed (very strange for a dog, I can tell you!), the sheets on the bed need changing because of all the fever sweats, and there might be a good show on telly, or a vid I haven’t seen for a while. Oh, yes, Strassman – that’s what I’ll watch.

Later, the other stuff can happen later.

And the words can happen tomorrow … maybe.


Slim in sunroom chair

 

An Excerpt: The Third Moment

Chapter 4

Screams. Blood. Death that came in oozes through cracks; black claws that dragged viscera in a trail over the floor. Something reached for her; electrified hairs lifted in a crackly, sparkly line from her wrists to her shoulders. The neck hairs followed, lifted and sizzled with the new energy.

Something was about to happen. Something was coming. For her? To rescue or to finish? Evinna didn’t know, but any change was better than this. She wriggled her wrists in the plastic cuffs, tested for even a small measure of space, lifted it to her mouth to chew. No movement. Nothing. Too tight. The plastic bit so deep her hands were swollen and hard and dark. Something would have to happen soon, or this would be her end. The end.

No.

Evinna threw her body up, eyes wide open, mind wide-awake, heart pounding; body sweaty and tense and jittery. A dream. It was a dream. Ragged breaths panted from her mouth to the cold damp air, wobbled and vibrated in smoky wisps of fog.

Wintery light oozed a green hue through the dirty glass window, outlined the shape of feet hanging off the bunk ends.

Early. Her hands shook. She rubbed her wrists – no ties, but the skin was red and swollen and hot. Her ears still heard the screams from the nightmare.

Should she get up? A breath blew out like a rainmaker, took some of the freeze from her limbs, loosened her mind.

No noise came from the other bunks. Well, except gentle snores, growls, soft farts. Sleep sounds. Hands dangled to the floor from under plumpy doonas. Five other bunks with doonas and lumps. The people who came for the Eartch course.

She wished the accommodation was decent, not this draughty and cold, run-down and mouldy, old and decrepit scout-hall tin-shed thing in the middle of a dank half-hearted attempt at a lake. Last night would have been so much . . . more.

The bunk opposite hers – that lumpy bit was Billy.

Her breath deepened and sped up to match the increased pulse rate. Her mind drifted to the things that happened last night. His hands, his lips, his eyes. Soft brown skin that sent senses a-scatter in every direction all at once, to return with a crash of cymbals right in the middle of her heart. She still felt it. A slight touch here, there, a whisper as skin slid on skin, as hearts beat in unison.

The magic of their night drifted over her like an aura, enfolded and warmed her, brought a flush to her cheeks. Evinna sighed; deep contentment flowed through her veins. She felt alive, so fully aware of life.

A half-heard memory tried to rattle her thoughts. The dream, the screech of a whistle that pierced through the fading darkness. She pushed the nightmare back into insignificance, away. Not now.

Her tongue licked her lips, rubbed at her teeth. Yeccht. First, coffee. She shoved the doona off and slid across the floor in her socks, pulled the wrapper around her shoulders as she slid into a glissade (in her mind, anyway), soared into the dawn, slithered to the door.

A discordant squeal as she opened the door with once-yellow paint that peeled and slivered in its own dance of shape and colour to land the floor with many of its friends.

The floorboards squeaked when she stepped into the middle of the hall. Crap. She’d forgotten that. Did anyone hear? She smiled, in her mind swirled a pirouette across the room to him, a triple-axel spin and leap over his body. Breathed in his scent, his laughter, his deep growl when . . . Breathed out. Checked for movement from the other bunks.

No change; no sounds, no grumbles.

Time for coffee. Evinna put her hand over her mouth so she wouldn’t laugh or squeal or giggle, tiptoed close to the far wall to avoid any more noises, made her way to the kitchen-diner common area.

The long table was clean, plates and cups and cutlery set out on the white cotton table-cloth ready for the next meal. The urn – quiet. She tapped the side. Thonk. Full. Flicked on the switch at the wall, waited for the crackle and hum of start-up, dragged the cupboard doors open; another tooth-tearing squeak – must have been a long time since this place was used; found the coffee, tea bags, chocolate powder – all new, unopened. Coffee mocha. The best drink for . . . after. She swung her body in adagio, a circle, arms soared and spun, body twirled as her legs dipped and dived, flipped and flung up and curled in to counter-balance the sensuous spin. Her eyes skidded, became motionless as she saw it on the large wall behind the wonky trestle table covered in glaring white cotton.

The dance stopped, mid leap. Eyes widened.

A tanned skin hung there. Was it there last night?

Maybe, maybe not. Evinna remembered Billy. The moment he touched her hand, the moment their eyes met. Nothing else existed. She could have missed an elephant.

She would have missed a wall hanging.

The urn crackled. She touched it – still cold; she turned and walked to the skin.

Not well tanned. Lumpy bits. What animal did this skin come from? Small head, long body and limbs. The shape . . .?

Frowned, scowled as something bit at her memory; her eyes skimmed down the hide, rapido. Stopped. Widened. A scar. The backward seven. Her fingers remembered it. She raised her hand – no, not . . . Remembered sliding over the ridges. Her lips remembered the shape of it, the taste of it, traced by her tongue.

Air tarnished to orange and black stripes, solid, couldn’t get past her lips. Her hands lunged . . . The wall slid sideways. The skin tilted – horizontal? Blackness shadowed in from the sides, left only a diminished tunnel of half-light. A focus for . . .

A sonic horn shrilled. Sirens cut the air and screamed and screamed and screamed, the pitch higher and higher, ear-splitting. Evinna heard the thump as her head bounced on the timber floorboards. The hands, her hands, played out a twitchy dance on the mouldy-coloured timber. Muggy air from the swamp lifted in stringy wafts through the cracks in the floor; danced in the vortex her hands created as they flapped and slapped in a manic patter. Two nails cracked and tore.

Flakes fell from the crinkly, dried-up skin, flowed in the damp air, rolled with it, became . . .

Her eyes wouldn’t close, things were both clearly outlined and blurred and distorted and rippled with tension within the point of focus. Oily rags under the bottom of the cupboards, covered in webs and dust. A mist slid out through the slits of splitting timber. Her head bounced again, rolled; flashes of bright colours fractured across her vision. Teeth clacked and cracked in a xylophonic off-key dinkle. Everything rolled in swells that rocked and rollicked her head, bashed her senses.

A warm hand settled on her shoulder; words slinked, rebellious, through the cacophony of sirens and screams and hammer of sound waves.

“Evinna,” a woman’s voice whispered in colours of honey and wax and summer warmth. “Evinna, come back from there.” The voice belonged to Gnangarai. “Leave that place, and come back.” It wasn’t words. It was music. Gnangarai sang; her hand tapped Evinna’s shoulder in the same rhythm as the voice. No.

The hand didn’t move. She did. Convulsions. A fit.

Not again. She closed her eyes. Let go, slid into the other-where place.


copyright Rose Brimson & Cage Dunn 2016

The First Moment …

This extra post was inspired by this post.


The front door banged, footsteps clumped down the hallway. He came through the common room doorway with no door, ducked under to avoid hitting his head on the lintel. A gush of wind whistled up through the gaps in the timber floor. He smiled.

Other people walked up, introduced themselves, spoke to him. Evinna couldn’t move.

The music of his voice was the first intrigue, the warm tone, such a depth of timbre as he laughed, as it vibrated through the floor, into the walls, rattled the glass in the windows. The way the light bent to highlight his cheekbones, his eyebrows. The laugh-lines in the brown skin that surrounded his molasses brown eyes.

Billy.

One of the students. One of five students, and Evinna made six. A small group. She heard the convenor say ‘all here now’ as if it came through a long and hollow tube.

Her hand reached for his outstretched handshake invitation; big hands, visibly soft skin with little callous marks at the tips and thumb – must play Aussie rules, or guitar, or both. Her eyes lifted to his.

Locked.

The hands continued on their trajectory.

Connected.

Lightning zapped along her arm, fired every hair and nerve end into flame. His fingers clenched on her hand; she tried to fight it; too late, the mirror response. His pupils dilated wide, dark; the deep brown irises pushed into the colour of raw cacao.

Hot raw cacao. Her mouth fell open, eyelids drooped, hips swung in to front his. Kept her grip on his hand.

Noise ceased. Time stopped. The world disappeared. A cavernous sensation as the walls fish-eyed out and away, blurred into distance.

She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t look away. Her mouth watered, she snapped her mouth closed with an audible clack of teeth.

A whirlpool of emotions: desire, hunger for something she was ravenous for, a sizzle and burn over her whole body. A loud, deep growl – her throat vibrated with it – her eyes prowled over every inch of him, disregarded every other occurrence in the environment.

Inconsequential.

Her animal self, some part she’d never known, took control.

Time moved. Stuff happened. Voices intruded like a radio station just off the mark, static nonsense. Movement, actions, flow. Rituals. She moved with it, but it was irrelevant, insignificant. She felt only his words on her eyes, his scent in her nose, on her skin. Tasted him on her tongue when she breathed.

Someone sat her down. Put food in front of her. Cutlery clanked as it dropped onto the white tablecloth that covered the rickety fold-up trestle table.

The food was nothing. She didn’t know who put it on the table or what it was. Evinna shoved it in her mouth, chewed, gulped it down until the plate was empty. Didn’t know how much time was swallowed between one moment and the next.

Her eyes never left Billy, who sat on the other side of the low table. He smiled at her, a lazy movement of his bottom lip as his head lowered, as his eyelids drooped, as his breath sped up. She could see his heartbeat in the pulse on his neck – hers pounded the same rhythm. The pound met in the air between them and bounced back; each thump felt in her neck, in her lungs, in her groin. In the tingle of her toes.

He was so tall his knees knocked against the underside with every movement. She suppressed the laugh that bubbled up with each wobble of glasses and crockery. Giggles escaped whenever his foot touched her be-socked toes – when did she slip her shoes off? Springs of tension wound and unwound in her legs and stomach.


Copyright Rose Brimson & Cage Dunn 2017 (an excerpt)

rodk

There

The small town – could Eva remember the name from the map? – didn’t even qualify as a ‘one-horse town’ because there wasn’t a soul on the street.

Probably sensible – the heat! She’d torn her sleeves off hundreds of k’s ago, stripped off her jeans and worn shorts (for the first time ever!), and driven with bare feet (illegal).

Eva had broken so many rules in her rush to get to this point – her own rules, too. Most of her life was spent being a pest to other people, ranting at them about ‘the rules’ and how important it was to remain solid and steadfast in the face of temptation.

Not now.

This little town, in the middle of nowhere – wait, hang on! The middle of nowhere was way back there somewhere, in the long distant memory of the black tarmac, when it was still a sealed road! – this was where she’d aimed her mind, this is where she said would be her new abode. It was the dream of …

And just like the dream, when she got there, there was no there anywhere.

No people, no vehicles, no living creatures to be seen or heard or even imagined. And the worst part of it all: as she drove into the main street, a huge ball of tumble-weed-stuff rolled down the street in front of her car.

If she’d been anywhere else, she’d have driven right over it – but it was taller than she was!

The row of shops that fronted the main road all had lines marked for angle parking – how did they get paint to stick to unsealed surfaces? Then she realised it wasn’t paint, it was a line of bricks, or pavers, or concrete. She smiled – resourceful residents, this lot.

No lights showed up the contents of the inner sanctums of the shops. Some didn’t even have signs or names; most were boarded up with sheets of tin over the glass – or lack of it.

The end of the road. There it was. And here she was.

Eva drove to the end of the row of buildings, peered intensely at each one as she passed. Nothing. No sign of life, no sounds, no lights, no movement.

All still and silent and breathless – just as she’d dreamed. Waiting for her to find … it.

Twice more she cruised down the row, then along the back lane-way, then up the slight incline at the back of the town. She stopped at the highest point and got out of the car to stretch her body, find her hat, and look out at her new domain.

The bino’s were good, but even through the magnification, there were mirages and heat shimmers on the horizon. She adjusted them to see the town and scanned left to right, right to left, north to south, east to west. And again.

There. A tiny wisp of smoke – the mines!

This was where she’d been headed all these years, and finally, here she was. There.

Copyright Cage Dunn 2017


desert