©Kayla Coleman. 2015
(this is the beginning of a short story I did for a writing workshop, experimenting with the use of second person narrative.)
The skies are darkened with the heavy storm clouds raging on the horizon, blocking out the morning sun, and casting dark ghastly shadows over the wild landscape. A gale of wind tears through the valley and up over the hills, whipping the prairie grasses and golden daisies back and forth before slithering up under the cold steel armor of every burdened soldier.
Being surrounded on all sides by hundreds of men does nothing to help protect you against the bitter cold air that turns your skin pale and your lips an indigo blue. Despite the many layers of protective padding beneath your heavy metallic armor, and the heavy woolen socks you wear, you curl your toes in your boots to make sure that they aren’t yet numb.
One of the shadows looming over the distant hill slowly materializes, and you realize that it is a single knight. Slowly, he trudges up the steep incline and stops at the ridge. Confused, you turn to the others around you who are quietly murmuring to one another. Why would the enemy send one lone victim into the line of battle? Turn your gaze back to the man on the hill, and watch as he raises his sword in the air and shouts out his battle cry in a foreign tongue. There comes a command from the front row of the formation, and the archers nock their arrows. Fire! You commander yells with a rattling voice. On queue, the archery men in front of you release the taut strings, and quickly lower their bows as the dozen arrows pierce through the shifting winds and hit their target true. A heartless laugh spills from the mouths of fellow soldiers as the man on the ridge drops his sword and collapses to his knees before falling backwards out of sight.
There is a brief moment of silence, followed by a low rumbling chant coming from beyond the ridge that shakes the solid earth like a vicious quake. A black line appears up on the ridge, and you know that it is the oncoming force of the enemy. Thousands of men, marching in sync as they descend from the ridge and into the valley where you wait ill-prepared. It’s the scratching in your throat… the heavy weight in the pit of your stomach, as you turn frantically to the men around you who all are quickly scrambling to take their assigned battle stances. Without so much as a thought to the matter, you fall into line and close the visor on your helmet. Your surroundings are immediately blocked out. No more clouds, and no more hills. All you can see through the thin slits in the rusty metal is the soldier in front of you, and the one in the next line over.
You take a deep breath in.
Breathe out. The warmth of your breath redirects off of your visor and back into your face. For a moment you are lying wrapped in furs that you trapped yourself so that you could take comfort in knowing that she will be warm and safe through the winter while you are away at war. In front of you, the fire crackles and dances in the hearth, silently whispering home. The bright burning embers spark in your eyes as you close them and let out another deep breath.
Opening your eyes, you realize there is no hearth- that the fire is raging on all around you, burning the wild prairie grasses, and enveloping your fellow knights in its deadly embrace.
Other New Stories:
Minds of Fortitude: The Leaders have spent decades trying to convince their "followers" that they are the last people left on the planet by barricading them within the confinements of impenetrable, black walls that reach as far up as the sky. No one has ever attempted to fly over, or go under... Up until Estelle. She hasn't been brain-washed yet. But in three days, on her sixteenth birthday, she knew that they would begin drugging her into fully following the Leaders, just like everyone else. So she does the first thing that comes to mind; she runs. Somewhere, over the wall and beyond the nuclear waste-land lives Zync, waiting for the right chance to finally infiltrate the barrier his people were never allowed in, all to destroy the men who put it up in the first place. What do you think? Haha, basically the idea so far. Share your thoughts!
Atoned: (still working on name) Miss Millicent Ballard is the eldest of three Ballard children, raised in a wealthy aristocratic family in England. Although the main events of the present story are connected to her childhood, the present takes up shortly after the American Revolution- from which returns an English soldier who seeks solace and work from Mr. Ballard, Millicent's father. Between his curious nature, and the nature of the scarring murder she witnessed one night at a dinner party, Millicent begins to question to what extent every man tells the truth about his real identity, and just how much he thinks he can get away with. Everything was calm and peaceful before the arrival of Mr. Atwin entered their lives, but life was also boring. Thinking she'd already grown up into an adult, Millicent realizes she still has a lot to learn about the world, and about man's true nature.