Five Sentence Fiction: Andro’s Crossing

In Fiction on June 14, 2012 at 6:55 am

Andro’s Crossing they called it, one of the first dead towns, lost in a deep raid in the early fighting. It was some fifty miles south of the line, and the raid some six months past, but the town folk had never returned and Caleb didn’t blame them.

It was a broken place, hard by the river and shaded by hills, low buildings huddled on the bank as if in fear. There were no lights in the windows, now, no smoke from the chimneys and no walkers in the street, but Caleb knew Grammar and his men wouldn’t be far.

Men like Grammar were drawn to desolation like blow flies, sniffing out the ruins of human life — feeding on what little is left.

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The Story So Far…Five Sentences at a Time

The fog crept across the plain, wispy and wavering like a line of ghostly scavengers stooping low to inspect the dead. Caleb felt the dew it had deposited on his eyelids – cold, liquid coins — and awoke, sorely disappointed to find that he was still alive.

He sat up and peered through the mist. A few yards distant, the white shroud was wrapping some fortunate soul in its folds, hiding from view the open eyes and slackened mouth and hollow cheeks, making dark shapes of the bodies that lay farther afield in the grassy muck.

Theirs is the glory of war, he thought bitterly as he got to his feet, and now the task is mine alone.

The battle was a blaze in his memory, a single burst of fire, all shrapnel and blood and smoke and noise. Now all was quiet, and the dead were everywhere, some stacked and gathered, others strewn lonely in the field. Somehow the silence beat a rhythm within itself, like the memory of a heart gone still, like drums only almost struck.

Grammar’s forces had moved on, north probably, toward the river and the mill and the stores beneath Pa Conner’s shop. Caleb had glimpsed the map only in passing and only in the uncertain light of the Captain’s low-burned taper, but he had a fair idea of where the men were headed.

He pushed on, down the slope of a wet ridge, feet sliding. The sun, overripe and bursting orange, was crushed against the horizon, breaking through the clouds and smoke to the west.

The town was fewer than five miles distant, easy enough to walk by nightfall, but Caleb couldn’t be sure Grammar and his men would stop for rest, or how many men Grammar had left, even. If the company was at full strength, there would be little he could do, but a dozen men — sleeping perhaps — would be quick work for his dagger.

Quick work except for one, Caleb thought, and he quickened his pace.

Andro’s Crossing they called it, one of the first dead towns, lost in a deep raid in the early fighting. It was some fifty miles south of the line, and the raid some six months past, but the town folk had never returned and Caleb didn’t blame them.

It was a broken place, hard by the river and shaded by hills, low buildings huddled on the bank as if in fear. There were no lights in the windows, now, no smoke from the chimneys and no walkers in the street, but Caleb knew Grammar and his men wouldn’t be far.

Men like Grammar were drawn to desolation like blow flies, sniffing out the ruins of human life — feeding on what little is left.

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Five Sentence FictionThis is my response to Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction prompt. This week’s prompt: LOST. I was late this week, but be sure to check out all the other responses on Lillie’s blog!

As always, constructive criticism, destructive praise, and general commentary welcome below! If you’re really in the mood to critique, I’ve got more fiction here.

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