This is my writing blog, where I will be shamelessly posting my work. Poems, short stories, flash fiction, extracts from novels...they'll all be here. And if you don't like any of that, just play with the tiger.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

The course begins...

Here's an activity what I writed for my course. Day one, and I've got something written...yay!

The church clock strikes eight, so those villagers who are awake know without checking that it is six. A cock crows, and is answered by a braying donkey. A body lies across the doorstep of the church; a viscous trickle of dark fluid on its cheek is picked out by the feeble dawn light. There is a serene, momentary quiet after the chimes cease. A figure glides past the church wall, before the silence is cracked by a baby crying.
Guillermo Brown registers briefly that these sounds of normality can still exist - clocks and cocks, babies and brays. Beneath them, he hears still the incessant bass of the front, the ceaseless, brain-churning thrum of artillery and the sudden whoompfs of displaced earth. His mind adds extra sound effects: the whistling skirl of shells bearing down on him; the nasal whine of bullets streaking by his ear, so close they set off detonations in his mind, the strangled, urgent shrieks of men shouting 'GAS!', and the eerie, invidious silence of the gas itself. All these noises want him dead. And so did his friend. Guillermo Brown looks queasily at the body, and runs.

The church had seemed safe: abandoned for the night, it offered a haven for an hour or two. If only he'd known that Tommy Atkins would get religion. As Guillermo Brown writhed on a pew, trying to snatch a fragment of sleep, Tommy Atkins began to pray.
'Will God forgive us, Gil?' he whispered. '
Yes,' snarled Guillermo Brown, bunching his jacket beneath his head as a lumpy, stinking pillow.
'But we're deserting. Running away.''
Saving our bloody skin,' Guillermo Brown corrected him.
'But doesn't the Bible say, greater love hath no man-'
'Bloody hell, Tommy!' Guillermo Brown surged to his feet. 'I never made you come. If you want to go back and be cannon fodder, off you go.' He pointed with his whole arm at the church door.
Tommy Atkins blinked stupidly. 'But we're pals,' he almost whispered, his bottom lip trembling childishly. 'It just doesn't feel right. Leaving the others behind.'
'We're not stopping them from running away, if they've got the balls for it.'
A heavy silence.
'Greaser said there'd be bacon this morning,' Tommy Atkins said vaguely. 'Bacon and good, strong tea. With sugar.' He smacked his lips, then looked at Guillermo Brown with big eyes. 'Gil. God will be so angry.'
Guillermo Brown lowered his head, recognising that the die was cast. Tommy Atkins was going back. But Guillermo Brown wasn't. 'Fine,' he whispered. 'You go back and be killed like an animal. If it'll make God happy.'
Tommy Atkins took a deep breath, and began to walk away.
Guillermo Brown settled back onto his pew, then jerked upright with horrible realisation. They'd court martial Tommy Atkins, and Tommy Atkins would spill. Every word of their plans to flee hell would tumble from his frightened mouth, and then they'd be straight after Guillermo Brown. When they caught him, they'd save the Hun the bother of shooting him.
No. Guillermo Brown raced through the church, picking up a heavy candlestick as he went. He caught Tommy Atkins on the church steps, and silenced him with a single blow. He hoped Tommy, and God, would understand.

The baby quietens as Guillermo Brown runs through the drowsy village. He sends a regretful, anguished thought after the soul of Tommy Atkins. As he reaches open country, he vows he will write a letter when he gets to safety. A warm, gentle letter to Tommy Atkins' mother, telling how her boy had laid down his life, for his friend.

1 comment:

Papoosue said...

I didn't realise you were doing on A363 too, Viki :-) Well done getting something written - I've just done the same, but it wasn't as good as yours. I like it! Keep up the good work and good luck!

With thanks to Graeme