Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

Yeah Write #94: Follow Me ( #amwriting #flashfiction )

Old King Glory on the mountain. The mountain reached so high, it nearly touched the sky…” a small voice wavered in the twilight.

Eztli sniffed the misty air, peering between bush and tree. She was hungry; her mouth watered.

By lamplight, the child continued to sing the same lines over and over while bent on her knees. She stretched out one hand when the elder male she was with barked at her in a lilting, foreign tongue. A gang of children strung together by ropes coiled around their necks stood barefoot or crouched, shivering upon the ground.

I should leave trouble to itself, Eztli thought.

The male’s garish garb reflected the lantern’s glow. He lifted his long blade high, aiming for the slender wrist of the little singer who held her chin up. Eztli shouted, burst from cover, and shot bolts from her weapon. One to the head. There was no need to waste ammunition on the the thin skull. Even if he were not dead by the time he hit hard earth, Eztli’s deft cut to his neck finished the job.

She didn’t bother to wait to feast.

The children didn’t scream but un-looped themselves. Older children grabbed beaten and exhausted youngsters. They scattered like roaches in the light. All except the little singer who curled her feet under, tucking her hands into her armpits. She watched Eztli remove her long coat and gorge on the blood of the slaver.

Eztli slurped and paused. “Go on with you. I don’t much like the taste of children.”

“Don’t got no wheres to go,” the little singer sniffed back the string of snot running down her upper lip. “You gonna finish him? That’s an awful lot in one sit.”

Eztli snorted. “You’ve a river’s mouth. I should eat you on principle.”

The child tilted her head and bit her lip, showing off side gaps where adult teeth had not yet filled in. “Been through worse than that. Besides Drinkers don’t never kill kids. That’s why Stakers send the littles to scout dens. Least that’s what my Ma says — said.” Her lip quivered.

Eztli patted down the body and searched for useful items to pocket or stash. She rolled him to a bare patch and piled up brush and wood for a pyre in the way of his kind. The last thing she needed was to alert any passers to her presence. She’d been over the area already; the slaver had been alone. A lesser beast who could only manage to snatch half-starved children from nomad camps.

The girl began to sing the same song in a mutter.

“Who was your Ma then? A Scholar of the forbidden tomes?” Erzli cursed herself for continuing the conversation. Solitary meant safety. She had no more kin and even if she had, it was better to have leagues between. Nothing to keep you and nothing to hold onto. She set the fire with the pyre-oil the slaver’s people always carried in expectation of their final step. Eztli walked away with the slaver’s satchel of supplies and didn’t look back.

The child followed light-footed several paces behind and hummed Old King Glory. “Ma knew lots of the old tunes. Villages like them.Β  We had a good caravan ’til the raiders come and broke it.”

She hummed again.

“By the moon, child. Don’t you know another song?” Eztli stopped and pointed her knife. “Tell me which way you want to go, so I can go the other.”

The girl jutted out her chin and refused to let the tears fall. “I know lots. Only I ain’t ready. I’m not strong enough yet.”

“Shit.” Eztli sighed. “You don’t look useful.”

She brightened. “I can cook and clean.”

“Do I look like I have a stove in my pocket? And I can’t say that the trees need sprucing.”

“Sprucing.” The girl laughed. “When’s your babe coming?” When Eztli lifted a brow, she continued. “Only girl Drinkers take blood and only that much when they’s gots a babe. Ma said ain’t no safer place for a wee one to be than with a mamma Dri–”

“You talk too much. And I’m not a girl.” Eztli walked on. “Hum that song again and I’ll shove your face in bear scat.”

“Want to know my name?”

“No.” Eztli snapped.

The full moon’s dappled light in the forest lit the way. Eztli glanced over her shoulder, halved her strides, and picked a more careful path over rock and root.

 


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15 comments on “Yeah Write #94: Follow Me ( #amwriting #flashfiction )

  1. MichelleH
    January 25, 2018

    The interaction between Eztli and the girl was great, but the girl was my favorite. All the moments where “my ma said…” made me smile and also want to strangle her too. I’m worried about what happens to her! (Though I suspect she’s spunky enough to either follow Eztli or make her own way). I struggled a bit to picture the scene at the beginning. I wasn’t totally sure what Eztli was doing or where the girl was. But that was pretty quickly resolved and everything fell into place – my sister recently informed me that I’m “very literal” though, so take that with a grain of salt. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      January 25, 2018

      LOL. I tried to think of things my kids do that can really grate after a while. Well, Eztli did “shorten her strides,” so you can take from that what you will. πŸ˜‰ I did drop the reader in the thick of things and didn’t describe the setting very much. I can see how that kind of can leave things floating for a few lines. πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading and commenting. Happy you liked it. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • MichelleH
        January 25, 2018

        For me, characters are the most important part of a story. And you nailed those.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Jamie
    January 25, 2018

    You’ve created such a vivid world and ‘society’ here, and a real sense of menace in the early part of the story. I love the kid’s canniness, I hope we get to read more about them!

    Should ‘Solitary meant safety’ be ‘solitude’?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      January 25, 2018

      You’re right. I think when I took out a few words in that sentence, I should have changed solitary to solitude. Glad the menace came through even without very much gore description. πŸ™‚ Thanks, Jamie.

      Like

  3. Sara
    January 25, 2018

    The little girl’s so sassy πŸ™‚ I loved some lines so much in the dialog -“That’s an awful lot in one sit” and “Do I look like I have a stove in my pocket” You should make this a series definitely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      January 25, 2018

      Thanks Sara, glad you enjoyed it. I really love writing dialogue. I had to work on that “stove pocket” line a bit to make it sound right with the characters. Nice to know it was successful.

      Like

  4. innatejames
    January 25, 2018

    I enjoyed Eztli and the girl’s interaction. You have a way of incorporating terms specific to your world very naturally, Tara. Like, I don’t know what they are at first but I know I will find out in a few sentences. The opening paragraphs, I think, are missing a major plot point. The children are the captives of other Drinkers, yes? The sentence “A gang of children strung together by ropes coiled around their necks stood barefoot or crouched, shivering upon the ground.” had me scratching my head. “Ropes coiled around the necks of a gang of children”, maybe? I was trying to figure out who was coiled around necks and who was standing barefoot and what was shivering.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      January 25, 2018

      Thank you Nate, you know how much I love dialogue πŸ™‚ I am glad I have manage to curb my wordbuildingitis and streamlined it enough for flash. I’m still working on plot which has never been my strong point. In this piece, the children are captives of a Slave trader — they might be sold to Stakers (hunters of the blood drinkers) or for various purposes.

      I think that gang of children line needed commas and a period to break it up. Probably: A gang of children, strung together by ropes coiled around their necks, stood barefoot. A few crouched, shivering upon the ground.

      It sounded so clear in my head. Thanks for pointing it out πŸ™‚

      Like

  5. Donna-Louise Bishop
    January 25, 2018

    The interaction between your characters is great. And the world you’ve created seems so real and very naturally written. It does feel like it belongs to a bigger piece though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      January 25, 2018

      πŸ™‚ I think you always say that. I think you must mean “stop writing flash dammit” LOL

      Like

      • Donna-Louise Bishop
        January 25, 2018

        Whoops πŸ˜‚ I think I just love your worlds so much, I want to read the novel! You’re so talented at transporting your reader to such an authentic other place.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. unfoldingfromthefog
    January 25, 2018

    I love this world you’ve created and the lore that the girl lets us in on. I really wanted more of this. Planning to write a longer piece?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      January 25, 2018

      I might try to incorporate it into my vampireish-novel-in-perpetual-limbo Been looking for a way to make it…not…ordinary. I’d have to do a lot of rewriting because it’s a totally different setting, but I could go future dystopian. Maybe abandon the original for now and start over with the new setting. I’d have to think on it. My head hurts. LOL After I get my short story collection proofed and out, I might do that.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. saroful
    January 26, 2018

    I love the way the world is being revealed almost as a series of interconnected snapshots through this story and your others. It’s a compelling place and I’m always left wanting to know more about it.

    Like

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