Morning broke across the park with a scream. Lee was on his feet and racing toward the campsite before he was fully awake. He followed the pandemonium until he reached a group of crying teenage girls holding onto to each other. He couldn’t see what was wrong but an elderly man in white Nike trainers pointed to a hole in the ground close to the dying embers of the fire.
Lee peered into the dark hole and reeled back when the stench hit him. He held a hand over his mouth and stepped cautiously forward. It looked like a giant mole had crawled up during the night, pushed aside a mound of earth then burrowed back down. That was where the similarities ended because a foot beneath the surface he saw a soup of human remains – hands, ears, half a foot and the faces of people Lee recognised.
Beside him Colin gagged and vomited on the grass. Lee forced the bile down his throat and waved people away. He dragged a blanket over the hole and dropped onto the ground, his sudden energy was sapped and he felt weak and faint.
“Jesus, chief, what could have done that?” said Colin.
“Did you see those faces?” asked Lee. “Dozens of them without skulls, just the skin.”
“Like rubber masks,” said Colin. “This is fucked up, chief. Seriously. The chasms and all that stuff, I can live with but this… We’re in big trouble if this is how they are getting to us.”
Lee noticed how Colin used the word “they” as if comfortable enough to name whatever it was that was hunting them. During the night he’d listened in on many hushed conversations about the events of the day. As the night wore on the word he used frequently was “they” or “them” to describe whatever was under the surface. He found it hard to think of any other way of saying it, especially after Tom’s story.
“Can you get a spade and fill it in?” he said to Colin.
“Shouldn’t we…you know?”
“No. I don’t think anyone’s in the right frame of mind to see bits of their loved ones dug up and spread across the grass. Fill it in.”
Lee stood and addressed the crowd. A quick count told him more people had disappeared during the night. “Okay folks, be calm. It’s just a hole. We all saw plenty of them yesterday. Colin’s going to fill it in and we’ll get some breakfast, whatever’s left in the kiosk.”
He left the campsite and went to help Caroline into her chair. He told her what had happened and she wept. Tom wandered over, Lee was going to ask if he’d slept okay but the tired haunted look on his son’s face was all he needed. Tom had enough worries without needing to hear the gory details. In silence they ate a breakfast of chocolate cereal bars washed down the remaining water from the kiosk. When Colin appeared and beckoned Lee away he told the boys to stay put.
“There are more holes all over the park,” Colin told him when they were out of ear shot. “Every damn one the same, jam packed with body parts and more faces.”
“Any sign of what dug them?”
“No. No scratch marks. Nothing. Just perfect round holes.”
Lee looked at the campsite. “Keep it to yourself, okay? If they find out there’ll be mass panic. I wouldn’t blame them either. Stuff digging up out of the ground and leaving its dinner scraps behind like a trophy. Sick.”
“What if they come back?” asked Colin. Lee gaped at him. “We’re down to about fifty survivors, chief. Plenty of meat left for them to snack on.”
There it was again. Them. Lee already hated the word. “Let’s try and encourage everyone to stay under the trees. Maybe the roots will stop whatever it is from digging straight up.”
“Okay. How’s your kid doing?”
“He looks like shit,” said Lee. “I don’t know if he can take much more. Me too for that matter.” He stared at Colin. “At this rate there won’t be many of us left by nightfall. Even if we do, what then? Ever tackled this kind of problem in your troubleshooting?”
“Not even close,” said Colin. “But I have taught survival training to guys in suits in a boardroom. Team building rubbish mostly.”
“Like make a camp, scavenge for supplies, that kind of thing?”
“Next to people vanishing, which scare’s the shit out of me, it’s the supplies issue that I can’t stop thinking about,” said Lee.
“I’ve had a thought about that,” replied Colin. “Come and see.”
Lee followed Colin across the park to the fence. On the other side of the chasm was a row of up-market clothes boutiques. Colin pointed to a shop on the corner of the block, the sign read: METRO-MART – NEWSPAPERS, SNACKS & GROCERIES. Lee estimated the gap was almost twenty feet, too wide for their ladder bridge.
“I’ve already recruited a few volunteers to knock down the ground keepers shed,” said Colin. “We’re going to use the ladders as a base and build out over the hole. If we secure it this side we should be able to get across. At the least we’d have more food and water, we might even be able to get everyone over and out of the park.”
“It’s a long way,” said Lee. “Nasty way to die.”
“So’s starvation or dehydration,” replied Colin. He shrugged. “What choice do we have?”
“Not much,” said Lee.
“Shall I get started then, chief?”
Lee laughed and slapped Colin on the shoulder. “I’m not in charge, Colin. You don’t need to keep asking my permission. But yeah, get started. I’m going to check out the rest of the park, see if I can spot any holes in the making. Let me know if you need a hand.”
They parted company and Lee toured the park grounds. There was no other sign of fresh holes and he headed back to his camp. The boys complaining they were bored. Lee asked them to put their phones in the cool box. Lee took the last one from a boy named Greg and held it up.
“You’re going to have a competition,” Lee told them. “Since this is Greg’s phone he gets to go first. He will play one game of his choice then pass it on. Then whoever gets the best score wins.”
Greg scrunched his face into a frown. “What do we win?”
“The winner gets to choose the next game,” said Lee. “And round it goes until the battery dies. Then you fetch out another phone and start again.”
“That’s a shit game,” said Greg.
“It sure is,” agreed Lee. “But what else have you got to do?”
Lee handed the phone to Greg and gave Caroline a wink. He left them to it and made his rounds with the other survivors, trying to answer questions and being as optimistic as possible. By lunch time he was tired and sweaty. The heat beat down across the park. Where there had been a breeze the day before the air now felt dead and lifeless.
By noon even the shade offered little respite from the heat. When Lee heard shouting he raced through the campsite scanning the ground more holes. He arrived in time to break up the fight be between Tom and Rob before it got ugly. He sat them down opposite each other.
“What the hell is going on?” he asked. Neither of them wanted to answer so Lee turned to Caroline. “Cal? Who started it?”
“Six of one, half a dozen of the other,” she replied. “Rob accused Tom of not sharing his Nintendo and Tom told Rob he only shared it with friends and since Rob wasn’t talking to him why should he let him have a go.” She looked at them with raised eyebrows. “Did I leave anything out?”
“Where is it?” Lee asked his son.
“I left it over by the goals,” said Tom.
“Right. Go and get it and we’ll put it in the cool box,” said Lee. “The winner of the next game gets to play a new game on it. No arguing. Get moving.”
Muttering under his breath, Tom stomped away.
“Unless the rest of you want to sit here in silence, I suggest you stop bitching and enjoy what little you can until the rescue teams get here.”
“Yeah?” said Greg. He laughed and looked around at the other boys. “When’s that gonna happen? I don’t see no one coming.”
“Someone will come,” Lee replied.
“That’s bollocks, mate,” said Greg. “They’d be here by now if they were. You don’t know nothing, do you? Look at him lads, he’s just a big pussy, acting all in big and tough. Who put you in charge anyway? Reckon I could do a better job than you.”
For a moment Lee considered walking away. Greg was just a child, scared and worried like everyone else, using a macho front in an effort to combat his fears. Much to his own disgust Lee let his anger get the better of him and he strode over to Greg and picked him up by the scruff of his t-shirt.
Lee put his face up against Greg’s. “Kid, you want to be in charge? Be my guest and go for it. Please. You’ll be doing me a favour. I don’t need to take shit from you. All I want to do is protect my family but that would make me selfish so I’m trying my best to keep everyone safe and optimistic as possible.”
“B-but we’re still here,” Greg said. “You haven’t done nothing to get us out of the park.”
“Where do you suggest we go? The roads are gone, footpaths too. This isn’t a video game, Greg. We can’t just jump over to the nearest building.”
“I’m not that stupid.”
“Let’s put that to the test.” He let go of Greg’s shirt and smoothed it flat. “Come on then, wise leader. What’s your first plan of action? Tell us how you’re going our merry band of survivors. Naturally we’ll have to make this official in front of everyone else, but I reckon you can warm up and give your epic speech to your pals.”
Greg stared at Lee. “Maybe I’d….”
“Get everyone together?” asked Lee. Greg nodded. “Yep. Done that. What about collect wood for a fire and post lookouts. Okay. Done that too. Oh, how about trying to call for help? Phone’s don’t work, Greg. Next.”
Lee didn’t expect much more than a whimper. Greg tried to speak a couple of times but couldn’t or wouldn’t. He glared at the boys sat on the grass. “Only people with ego’s to feed put themselves in charge,” he said. “I’m not a leader. I’m just a guy trying to do the right thing. If you have an idea, go right ahead and stick it to me. Seriously. I won’t bite your head off. Not like the black stuff that’s been snatching people in the night.”
“Kiddo, I think you’ve scared them enough,” said Caroline.
She was right. The boys stared at him with wide eyes. Lee was about to offer Greg an apology but a loud crash made them all jump. Lee pointed at them. “Stay here. No one moves.”
He sprinted across the park to the fence. Colin’s volunteers had been hard at work and their bridge was almost complete. It spanned the hole and was anchored in place inside the doorway of the corner shop. In the centre stood a skinny girl with dirty bare feet, short denim skirt and a bright green vest top. Lee hurried along the fence and saw the front of the shop had been smashed in, glass and wood dropped down into the chasm. Colin was holding on to the door, a plume of thick black fog wrapped around his feet.
“Get off the bridge!” Lee climbed the fence and held out his hand. The skinny girl started back toward him. “That’s it. A little more. You’re almost there.”
Tears ran down her cheeks and a globule of snot hung from one nostril. With Lee’s encouragement she made baby steps across the bridge. When her outstretched hand was almost within reach Lee lunged forward and grabbed it. A second plume of smoke belched above the hole like a shark breaking the surface of the water. It flipped and dove onto the bridge. Half of it separated and fell back into the hole. The remaining section staggered sideways and engulfed the girl until only her arm could be seen poking out of the fog.
Lee pulled and her head and shoulders emerged into the sun light. Maybe Tom was right after all, Lee thought, it just thinks it can hurt people but it can’t. It was a crazy idea but he was sure muscles were bunching up over the fog. Then he lost his grip. There was no scream or sound, the fog lumbered back away from the bridge and dropped back into the hole. Lee stared at the teenage girl’s hand grasping at the air until it was out of sight.
Colin’s legs were dangling over the edge of the chasm. Lee didn’t hesitate. He climbed over the fence and stepped onto the bridge. Sun light only penetrated a short way into the hole and Lee had no way to tell if the fog was coming back for him. Half way across the shop door creaked and came free as the hinges popped. The fog curled itself around Colin’s legs like a snake. Lee dashed across the bridge and leaped into the doorway. He twisted around and grabbed Colin’s hands.
“It’s got a hell of a grip,” said Colin.
“Try and knock it loose,” said Lee.
Colin kicked his feet. The fog shuddered and shook itself but maintained its grip. Lee climbed down onto the shattered remains of the shop’s foundations, held the door frame and lashed out with his feet. He was amazed to see the coil unwrap and pull back. Lee tugged and Colin shot back against him. They landed inside the shop as the fog attacked the door, ripping it free and shaking it in the air.
They picked themselves up and Colin held out his hand. “You saved my life, chief.”
Lee’s hand grasped the air when the fog sucked Colin out through the doorway. The dark mass shook Colin like a dog with a chew toy then swayed back and forth for a few seconds. Colin reached out to Lee but he was too far away. With frightening speed the fog lurched back and shot down into the hole leaving Lee staring at the chasm.
Before he had time to think the fog rose again. Lee glanced at the bridge and the fog turned as if reading his intentions. It was waiting for him to make his move. Beyond the fence he saw the others gathered in a group. He waved a hand for them to get back away from the edge. The fog hunkered down then sprang across the hole, plunging over the fence. The crowd scattered and Lee took his chance. He jumped onto the bridge and started across.
When he was halfway across the fog arched over him, a dark angry rainbow looming in the air. Lee realised he had made a terrible mistake. The fog dropped onto the bridge, shattering the flimsy supports lashed to the fence and breaking it in half. Lee turned and jumped a split second before the bridge collapsed under him. He landed on the step of the shop and hauled himself inside. The fog ripped the rest of the bridge to shreds and shook the debris in the air.
Lee ran to the back of the shop as the fog punched its way through the shattered window. Shelves and groceries flew through the air and Lee fell backwards through an open doorway. He slammed it shut and prayed the fog wouldn’t work out where he had gone.
In the darkness he cried. There was no way he could get back.
The Rainbow Tree.
“It’s coming,” said Tom.
Caroline wheeled away from the crowd that had returned to the fence now the fog had gone. There were less than thirty of them. She stopped beside Tom and took his hand in hers. Tom wasn’t looking at anything. He stared straight ahead and for the first time since the dust bloomed into the air he was afraid.
“It didn’t get your Dad, kiddo,” said Caroline.
“I know. He’s safe.” He looked at his Gran. “But we’re not.”
“What do we do?”
Tom could sense movement in the chasm. Something was rising to the surface, something hungry and more powerful than the Maw. It was certainly strong enough to reach their camp site. The crowd watched him. From the corner of his eye he saw their desperate, frightened faces. With his Dad gone they looked to him for help. They might have scoffed at his bizarre story about the Maw but that changed when they saw the fog for themselves. They believed him.
“Get back from the edge,” he said. No one moved. “Everyone get to the camp site before it comes back.”
Caroline looked at them. “You heard him,” she shouted. “Move it.”
Alone by the fence Tom and Caroline looked at the corner shop. Sun light glinted across shards of glass that protruded from the ruined window frame. Tom tilted his head and tried to work out why the Maw had taken Colin and the girl. They were no threat to it so why make such a bold move? Because it needed to trap his Dad. It was the only reason. But why? He wasn’t a threat to anyone, he just tried to help. Why not take him into the darkness like the others?
“Because without him I would lose hope,” he said.
“Hope for what, kiddo?” asked Caroline.
Tom looked at the grass beneath his feet. “That’s what it feeds on,” he said. “It isn’t interested in us like we think. It eats our hope. It needs our energy and life essence to grow.”
“Grow into what?”
“Something bad,” said Tom. But if the Maw couldn’t hurt him the day before how come it managed to take Colin and the girl? “I wasn’t there. They were too far away. It was taking a risk because it thought I couldn’t protect them.”
“You weren’t to know that,” said Caroline.
Tom stroked his foot over a mound of freshly dug earth. On its own the Maw couldn’t reach into the park. It didn’t have the strength. All living things had energy, even grass. The Maw wasn’t able to stretch across the park because the living earth prevented it somehow. But it could come straight up and out into the air right above them. That was it. That was the reason why people had been vanishing. If it couldn’t extend its reach it changed the rules. The earth gave off energy and kept the Maw at bay but if it burrowed up it could snatch people and drag them down before the earth sapped its power.
“Sorry, Gran, this is going to be a bit bumpy.” He grabbed the handled of Caroline’s wheelchair and took off across the park.
At the campsite he left his Gran and ran off. He kept his eyes on the ground, searching for tell tale signs of the Maw. Mounds of earth were all around the campsite. He found fewer mounds as he moved toward the big oak tree. He walked around it and saw none under its great branches. He estimated the oak was at the centre of the park and furthest from the chasms.
Tom jogged out of the shade and looked up. The oak was the largest tree and unlike the others it had barely shed any of its leaves. A few of the roots had sprung up through the ground but it looked in good shape. The question was did the Maw hunt around the fire because that’s where everyone gathered or because it couldn’t get near the old oak?
“But how can a tree protect us?” he asked.
That piece of the puzzle was still missing. He ground his heel into the earth in frustration. Grass had energy and although it was small there was a lot of it. Around the campsite, under the line of trees there was less grass. When the path and roads collapsed many of them had been uprooted, except the oak. There had to be a reason why one tree remained virtually undamaged.
Lost in his thoughts he didn’t hear the yelling right away. Only when he glanced at the camp did he see the funnel of fog wriggling out of the ground. He sprinted across the grass as more dark funnels burst out, long snake like arms curled into the air and dove down to snatch people off their feet. Tom skidded to a halt beside the fire and a thick trunk of fog settled over him.
“No,” said Tom. The fog surged around him, smashing itself against the invisible barrier. “You can’t hurt anyone. Leave them alone.”
But the Maw didn’t listen. It whipped people into the air and sucked them back into the ground. In seconds it had snatched a dozen and Tom realised he couldn’t protect them, the Maw was too strong. It had fed well during the night and had little to fear from Tom. The ground began to tremble and he knew something was climbing out of the chasm. He yelled for the panicked crowd to join him under the oak. He saw them trying to move, pushing against the soup-like air just like his Dad had described. To his right he saw a flash of sunlight glint against metal. His Gran’s wheelchair had toppled over and an angry plume of fog slithered through the air toward her.
Tom hurled himself against the thick air. Every few feet he passed through a bubble of normal pressure but slammed into another wall of invisible custard. His Gran rolled onto her side and he saw she had something in her hand. The fog hovered above her ready to strike. With a final tremendous heave he dropped to his knees beside her.
The fog crashed against his own barrier and he was alarmed to see it had shrunk. The Maw was feeding on his hope, squashing his protective shield around them.
His Gran held out a crumpled sheet of paper and Tom stared at his class room painting. When he placed his finger tips on it he felt the final piece of the puzzle slip into place. He saw everything as it should be. The Maw had made a mistake. It thought that by separating father and son it could prevent him from putting the puzzle together. Through a twist of fate it was his Gran who made the connection, not his Dad. Tom saw how everything snapped together, creating a series of links that led him to that one moment. The hobo’s voice whispered in his mind.
Keep it safe till the time’s right. Ye’ll know the when an’ where an’ how, jus’ don’t question the why, ye get me?
“I know what I have to do,” he said to his Gran.
“I can’t leave you.” Tears crested on his eye lids. “The Maw is too strong now.”
“You must,” his Gran said. She gripped his hand. “If you don’t it will kill everyone.”
“No. I won’t let it take you.”
Tom scrambled behind his Gran and righted her wheelchair. He pulled her into it, his muscles screaming at the strain. His Gran wasn’t heavy but Tom was so small he could barely lift her. The fog pushed down, inch by inch it was eroding Tom’s shield. He flipped the brake with a kick and pushed her across the park. The survivors cried out for help.
“Get to the big oak,” he said. “Hurry. You’ll be safe there.”
Under the branches he let go of the wheelchair and hurried to the giant gnarled trunk, painting in hand. He reached out and touched the bark and felt it tremble. Beyond the shadows the park was plunged into darkness. The Maw had retreated back into the ground and a handful of survivors collapsed beside Caroline. Tom turned to face the seething mass of fog and dust that rose out of the chasm.
Two giant feet pounded onto the grass and a black mouth gathered in the centre of the fog. Silvery grey teeth formed into jagged spikes and Tom knew what the monster wanted and and where it had come from.
“You are the Hun,” he said.
YOU ARE THE GUARDIAN.
Its voice had no centre, it echoed across the park from every hole and every crevice. The ground shook when it spoke and oak leaves broke away and were sucked into the mouth. The beast was older than time itself, a being without form, imprisoned since the world was first formed. It was responsible for every major change of Earth’s history, from causing the extinction of the dinosaurs to wiping out entire civilisations. Tom didn’t need to question how he knew this; he saw the truth in that gaping mouth.
“I’m here to stop you,” said Tom.
THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE. I AM FOREVER.
Tom had a sudden doubt. Something should happen. All the connections were made. His Dad’s painting of Grabhorn had shattered the veneer around the Hun’s prison and brought it out of its deep slumber. But his own painting of the rainbow tree had kept it bay. If his teacher had given him an A+ Tom would have stuck his picture on his wall with pride and the Hun would have devoured everything unchallenged. Instead the C- resulted in the picture being tacked to Grabhorn, slowing the Hun’s escape and leading the chain of events to Tom and the last stand beneath the oak tree.
“Someone always stops you,” said Tom. “You know that.”
YOU ARE NOT SOMEONE. YOU ARE NOTHING.
The mouth flexed and Tom saw the colour fade from the grass, leaving lifeless grey shoots. He stared at the painting and back at the mouth. Everything around him was fading except the painting. What was he missing? He needed to buy some time.
“If you’re so powerful why are you talking to me? Why not just finish it right now?”
CURIOSITY. I WISH TO FACE THE GUARDIAN BEFORE I DEVOUR HIM.
“You won’t hurt me,” said Tom.
WORDS WILL NOT PREVENT ME. THE MAW IS A CHILD. YOU FOUGHT HIM LIKE A CHILD.
Tom realised the Hun was right. The Maw was nothing but a bully and Tom had treated it as such. The Hun was intelligent, it had billions of years to think and plot. How could he defeat such a monster? The painting had the answer, he just knew it. The figure in the coat stood beneath the bows of the tree, patient and calm, watching the rain pour from the sky. How was that possible? There hadn’t been any rain for weeks. The sky had been a flawless deep blue before the Hun shrouded it with its filth.
Tom wanted to scream. He stared at the painting. The figure in the coat was the key but so was the was the rain. A rainbow of water cascading over the land, drenching it with life….
The hobo’s voice echoed in his mind.
Water is life. It gives us strength, hope, energy, power an’ can be that beacon o’ light amongst the darkness.
At the time Tom assumed that was drug induced gibberish. “Water does all that?” he had asked the hobo.
Not does, can. When the time is right.
Tom tilted his head and saw what should be instead of what was. The figure in the painting was the hobo. He had been protecting his ice cold bottle of water when the bullies hassled him the day before. But he had given Tom the bottle and told him to keep it secret until it was time. Had the hobo been a guardian too? If that was true then he had passed the bottle to Tom because he knew his life was coming to an end.
That meant it was the hobo in the painting but Tom who unleashed the rain. He was prepared to fight the Hun without the bottle and that was why the Hun knew he would fail.
NOW YOU SEE IT AS IT SHOULD BE.
Tom knew there was no chance he could outrun the ugly black mouth. He had hidden the bottle under his hoody sweat shirt tucked behind the tree trunk goal, but it may as well be on the Moon. Tom sagged as his energy wilted. All those connections had been for nothing.
WITHOUT YOUR PRECIOUS WATER YOU ARE POWERLESS.
There was nothing left but accept his failure. He turned to the survivors with tears in his eyes. The colour from their clothes had drained away, they looked like characters in a black and white movie. He saw sadness in his Gran’s face. Every last face was contorted into a mask of fear. Tom frowned when he spotted Rob digging in his short pocket. He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. How could his best friend want to play Nintendo when they were about to die?
Tom felt his heart beat in his throat when he saw the glint of water in Rob’s hand. His best friend pulled the bottle out of his pocket and held it up. The Hun roared and crashed across the park. The ragged black mouth screamed and hammered down around Tom. He was thrown against the tree, the wind knocked from his lungs. Dark grey flames ate the ground around him. They spread up the trunk and fed on the branches of the old oak.
Rob threw the bottle.
It bounced on an exposed root, flipped into the air and landed in Tom’s outstretched hand. The fog smothered him, wrapping itself around his body and pushing into his mouth. He screamed and tore the top off the bottle.
The fog reeled back and stared at Tom.
Weak and close to losing consciousness, Tom climbed to his feet and held the bottle to his lips. The Hun bellowed with rage and hammered against the tree.
“Strength, hope, energy and power,” said Tom.
He poured the ice cold water into his mouth. Sunlight smashed through the darkness and a rainbow of rain followed it. The cloudless sky drenched the old oak with a deluge of colour, dousing the flames and spilling onto the ground. The dark mouth snapped at the rain as it was forced back across the park. Every colour imaginable belched out of it. The grass regained its lush green; the survivors left the world of grey as the rain drenched them.
The Hun recoiled back to the chasm. The black mouth lost its consistency as the rain lashed at it. It heaved and screamed above its refuge as the rain tore through it, eroding its essence until it faded away. Tom held out the bottle to refill it. When twisted the top the rain shimmered and changed to a pure sparkling form.
On the ground he saw the colours in his painting bleed through the branches of the tree. For a moment he saw the figure beneath the tree had changed. The hobo was gone. Tom faced the imaginary camera, bottle in hand, water sloshing over his short body. Then it was gone. The rain wiped the paint clear from the paper and into the ground.
To them that want, want, want, this could be jus’ water, young Boon. Plain old water. Cold but jus’ water. But fo’ them what need it’s more’n water. Much more.
Tom finally understood what the hobo had meant. He also knew the Hun would never really be dead, just patiently biding its time before it was unleashed once again. And when that happened Tom was sure another guardian would be waiting to see things as they should be, not as they are.
I’d like to thank Christina Deubel for her amazing painting, Resilience. And Indigo Spider for her fabulous Sunday Picture Press. Without these amazing ladies I would never had found that spark of inspiration to pen Ground Fall, a story I have thought about for a long time.
I’d like to thank you, dear blog reader, for your kind comments and sticking with this story as it unfolded. Without you and your imagination this would just be words on a screen. I hope you enjoyed the ride!
This short story was inspired by Indigo Spider’s Sunday Picture Press – a challenge to write a piece of fiction between 50 and 1500 words using one of 3 photos as a prompt. This SPP had another great twist which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed slipping into Ground Fall.
There’s no Arcane Insane this week, apologies dear blog reader, but the painting at the top of this post (Resilience by Christina Deubel) pulled me in with such force that all I’ve worked on this piece since last Sunday, 24th July. I’ve been kicking a plot idea around for some time but couldn’t find the right way to approach it or how to get it started.
Years ago I wrote a number of short stories between 10,000 and 30,000 words, not realising they weren’t really short stories but novellas. I had plenty of time on my hands and this seemed the right length to tell those tales. Now I’m back into the swing of writing I’m finding the stories take on a life of their own, and Ground Fall is no exception.
Part 1 is around 3,700 words, Part 2 and Part 3 are about the same, Part 4 & Part 5 are roughly 6,000 words each. Part 5 is the conclusion! I estimated the entire piece would finish at around 15,000 words but the final count was 21,000. Ah well, a story tells itself in its own way, who am I to argue! I didn’t want to make you groan with the size so I’m splitting it into chunks, easier on the eyes I hope!
Excellent picture prompts from Indigo. If you want to join in and write a short piece of fiction clicky-click Indigo Spider’s link above and wrap your imagination around one of the pictures.