For the month of April, fellow author, Thea Atkinson is streaking through 30 blogs and flashing us a piece of fiction. I generously offered her a space today so she could expose a piece. My blog will be back to normal tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy and follow the links at the end to see who she flashed yesterday and who she will flash tomorrow. Feel free to leave a comment to let me know if you enjoyed the streak, and you are welcome to tweet it or share it on Facebook. You can also follow the chain through twitter with the hashtag #blogstreak
Lights in a Blackened Sky
By Thea Atkinson
I see the fireflies first. They blip out to each other in the darkness: dot dot dash… dot dot. Then the stink of exhaust comes, the smell of fish. Rotten. Left in the hot sun and smeared like oil over cement. Wharf, I think. I'm at a wharf and I try to burn the thoughts into my cells in case my real memory isn't around to tattle when I'm found. Something tells me to scratch into the rug beneath me. The tender flesh beneath my nails clogs with fibre and dirt and rust. Rust. Would the original metal have been blue? Red?
"Get up," my captor says. I know he has a pimple on his chin -- I remember that. I'd seen his face before the hood came down over my eyes. "Get up," he says again, and I realise that if I don't make some move, I might die right here.
I roll away into the depths of the stinking trunk, my face shoved into the darkness, and run my tongue along the dirt caked along the sides. Engine oil. Fish. Don't gag. Just try to keep from swallowing down any evidence that might have collected in my mouth. Instead I scrape my tongue on the ridges of my back teeth.
"You don't listen so good," he says when I don't even try to get up; then he calls me a bitch. Says all women are bitches, why don't they ever mind? He grabs my arms as he says this. Yanks. Maybe I should say something, tell him I'm different. But he'll know better. He's been watching me. He said so when he bundled me into his trunk, when I'd snatched off the hood and my eyes went to that pimple on his chin. He’d touched it when he followed my gaze. His thumb had a bed of warts that formed the profile of an angel. Angel. Of mercy or of death? I wonder.
He muscles me out of the trunk. My legs forget how to stand.
Sounds of waves lapping at rocks and it's the only noise for a moment. He's a thick blur beside me in the dark. Fiddling with something. Bent over. Coming up with a long snake. Rope. Must be.
"You don't have to do this," I say as he drags me, stumbling, from the cement to the breakwater boulders that protect the wharf from invasive waves.
He wraps lengths of hemp around my wrists. The rope cuts me. I don't bother to struggle. The ropes will still be there tomorrow; the authorities won't need to search for fibres.
He doesn't pull at my clothes when he pushes me down, doesn't force himself on me. No DNA, then. Just the rug under my nails, the oil on my teeth. But I know -- know -- I won't live to tell. And it will be just some mute bit of me in the end, left with the tale.
I close my eyes as I lie there, bits of debris sticking into my back. I feel him heft something (a rock, an axe, maybe) above my face and despite my resolve, I panic.
"At least kiss me," I say, and he pauses. "No one should die without comfort."
I worry he won't care how I die except that I should feel pain, but he shifts his weight and lowers the object to my side. I feel it pressing into my ribs, a solid mass with no jagged edges. Even though I open my eyes, he's still a bulky shadow that lowers inch by inch until I smell the onions on his breath. His lips are soft. Babyish. His tongue a butterfly in my mouth.
I bite down hard, tasting his scream. Chunks of his skin and the rusty tang of his blood fills my mouth. Was the rusty car red once?
Now there's fireflies again. Dot dot dash…
Where Thea was April 14