Awhile ago, Cheri tried to stave off her writer’s block by reading some books and making some lists (precise details can be found here). Needless to say, I decided to jump into the torture and created a list of my own. It has taken a bit longer than expected, but I managed to complete the prompt. Unbeknownst to me, we did not need to use all the things in the list, but here is my attempt at breaking through writer’s block including EVERY PROMPT in my list:
The glasses. The balloon. The costume. The middle of the volcano fields. The dieselpunk. The underwater. The hot boy.
INTO THE FIELDS
Water drips off of his sculpted torso and glistens as it makes its way down to ripple through the pond. Isolated and surrounded by the silence of pre-dawn nature, he flips his black hair back, a void in space speckled with the droplets of a thousand stars, and spears me with his gaze. Dark tanned skin moves through the blue water until I see his hipbones peek above the shimmering reflection off the liquid surface. I hold my breath as he stops. His hands rise in front of him bearing black smoke and the smell of diesel. As the wind picks up and blows the cloud away, I see a glint of metal then —
I wake up.
I’m back in the wasteland that is life. Obsidian rock digs into my calloused skin as I shift in the unbearable heat of the volcanic vents. But this is everyday life and wouldn’t normally wake me; it is the steel-toed boot digging into my ribs that forces me into the waking hell hole.
Our balloon is escaping.
I shoot up, awake, adrenaline rushing through my veins like hot magma. Cursing whoever was on the night watch, I sprint out of the flume and throw my unsubstantial weight on the tether. Shouts echo through the tunnel carved out by the forgotten ferocity of an old lava flow. My bare feet dig into the sharp rocks. I hold on.
The balloon is our only source of food; our only warning for approaching lava flows. Carried aloft by the hot air constantly rising from the scorching ground, the balloon had been pieced together by our ancestors before, when resources were more plentiful. As time went on, carelessness and the ferocity of the rising temperatures had whittled down their numbers to one. We had one source of life left. And it was about to escape.
“Pull!” I scream, my voice tearing at my ash-clogged throat.
As one, we pull and the rope moves ever so slightly, fighting us for every inch.
“Pull!” another voice yells. Grunts fill the air and the rope bucks forward. A warm breeze eases the scorching fever of the rising air, granting us a slight reprieve.
“Pull!” We pull hard and the balloon is close enough to tie to the rounded rock we had used as a anchor. As the end passes by me I see the clean cut. I let out air, ready for a sigh despite my white knuckles straining against the harsh fibres of the rope and the knowledge that one of our own betrayed us. Before I can breathe in the relief, I hear a scream from above.
Something falls at my feet and I look down, curious. Glass shards shatter against the harsh ground. Glasses from the sky. My head whips up fearfully as the noise from above gets louder. I know who is the night lookout.
Audrey had always had big dreams. She was the one who read the ancient books that were carried on the elders’ backs as we ran away from the unending heat. She told me about oceans and ponds and of a time before everything was ash and a perpetual sunrise glow. She fell to the earth in a costume of our youth, wearing the cape of a hero, and I know instantly.
Her life ends with a dull thud which will be justice to some, but I know, in the cape, she was trying to find help for the rest of us. Find a way for us all to escape.
As I step forward to go to see my friend’s broken body, a harsh hand grabs at my arm. I look into a creased face that mirrored my own with ashes, making us barely more than eyes, nostrils, and a mouth.
“She said to run!”
With her last breath, she warned us of the oncoming lava flowing, unstoppable. We pack up quietly and quickly. My practiced movements give way to new ones as I hand off my pack to the nearest person, removing a scrap of cloth. My own cape.
In ancient times, there was a legend of a boy being honored by a nymph from a pond — a wide area of water. She brought to him a sword from prophecy changing him from a nobody to a king with knights and a kingdom.
Audrey and I would play at the legend: a handsome figure welcoming us to the world of chivalrous royalty. We would go around in our lush world full of water and growth and save those who needed saving, helping those who needed help, and in all things, providing a safe haven for those who were worthy.
In our world the heat was our friend, powering all that was around us at our beck and call. We rode through the lands on ancient ‘motorcycles’ playing at soldiers in the third and fourth wars, rifles on our shoulders and goggles on our heads. We would push through the growing lava fields and fight back against the impending doom that consumed our real lives.
I tie the cape around my neck and glance at the figures that are beginning to leave for a safer wasteland than this current expanse of black that will soon be overtaken with lava.
Survivors, every one of them. But I, I am tired of running and pretending that everything is okay, as Audrey was.
I remember my dream and hold my hands up before me as the lava creeps forward. Slow enough that I could run should I choose to. But there, in the depths of the glowing heat, there is a face. The handsome man, rising in the pond, calling me with diesel on his hands. My nostrils fill with sulfur and my body screams to flee. I see a glint of metal. It is her glasses in his hands.
I walk into the dream.
Cheri’s attempt will be here for your purview next week! Tell us how we did or join along! Let us know what you do when you’re stuck in the comments below.