Story Number 4

I am taking a course right now that is called: “10 Stories in 10 Weeks.” Surprisingly, the goal of the class is to write 10 stories and have 9 of them critiqued in 10 weeks of class. So, here is my current story for this week. A sweet little tale I have decided to call: Lovesong.

Lovesong

Jackson opened the gate and entered the field. He was careful to close the gate behind him. He noticed that the daisies had stopped moving and everything was as still as death.

###

Jackson had moved the park-bench out here by the gate a few years back. He liked to sit and watch the field. He liked to watch the tall grasses and flowers on the other side of his fence. They were all his fences, the ones out here that faced out towards the field and the plains beyond. He walked the fences, made sure they were still secure and fixed them when they needed it.

He paced in front of the park-bench, back and forth, back and forth. His equipment, the shovel and the belt of tools he carried to fix the fences, were on the park-bench. He had been crying. His eyes were bloodshot and raw. He had run out of energy to cry anymore. He looked at a figure on the outside of the fence.

“It can’t end this way,” he said, again.

He paced for a while and then sat down next to his tools.

“You want me to walk away? Leave all this?”

The figure on the outside of the fence did not answer.

The field changed year after year as different species of grasses, flowers, and weeds fought for domination of the now abandoned plain. This year daisies had claimed a large swath of land in front of the gate. Daisies that were dancing in the early evening wind.

“Back in town, you know they opened up a new block today? Adults say it is only going to be a few more months, a year at most till they reach the library.”

He laughed.

“Yeah, yeah I know. They have been saying that for years. Don’t make it go any faster.”

He stood up and kicked at the ground. He managed to dig up a few small stones.

“Going to be a good party down there tonight. Bruce said there was a nightclub, so you know he was excited. The way they were packing, looks like Stella and her crew have found something down there as well.”

Jackson picked up a couple of the stones from the ground and tossed them at the fence. The figure outside the fence twitched as each stone hit. It was a ten foot tall cyclone fence, topped with razor wire. There was a gate here, locked up with a thick chain and a heavy lock. Tied to the gate was a girls sweater, white with a pink bow on one side, splash of blood on the other.

“You really don’t care, do you?” Jackson said.

The figure on the other side of the fence shuffled back and forth following Jackson as he paced.

“Here I am, prattling on about all the minutiae, all the crap that is going on around here. Doesn’t really matter any more, does it?”

The figure on the other side, mumbled a response.

“Yes, I guess that is the only reply you would give me. You know I can’t do it. Follow what was our plan, but leave without you. I wish I could.”

Jackson walked over to the gate, and pulling a key ring from his belt, unlocked the gate and started unwinding the chain.

“Come, follow me over here.” Jackson said.

He walked up along side the fence about ten paces, the figure on the other side shuffling along shadowing him the whole way.

“Can you believe that it was not always grasslands out there? That before, there were housing developments, and roads, and people out there? They all burned. Back in the day, when things changed.”

He smiled.

“You hated that. You hated when they tried to sugarcoat it. When the adults would hint at it, instead of talking about what happened. How they wouldn’t talk about it.”

Jackson took one look out of the fence and started to reach out to the figure, but he stopped himself. He turned around and walked quickly, almost ran, back to the bench and grabbed his shovel.

“Our parents were the survivors. This wasn’t supposed to happen any more. They trained us to survive here. To avoid this.”

He looked out at the field and the figure.

“I have to do this. I can’t walk away.”

Jackson opened the gate and entered the field. He was careful to close the gate behind him. He noticed that the daisies had stopped moving and everything was as still as death.

###

He was still carrying his shovel.

The figure shuffled over to where Jackson now stood. No one had ever figured out what animated the dead. What force allowed them after death to continue to walk, and eat, and kill. The figure had once been a girl about the same age as Jackson, but someone had slit her throat from ear to ear. She had short, cropped black hair that was caked in blood. She might have once been pretty, but her skin was ash grey and her eyes deep, black pits. She wore what was left of a white dress, that was stained brown with dried blood. Seeing he was on this side of the fence, she shuffled toward him even quicker.

“I am sorry Lisa. I am so sorry,” Jackson said.

He swung the shovel up over his head like he was chopping wood with an axe and brought it down on her head with a crunch.

She stopped shuffling forward.

Winding up he swung the shovel like a bat and struck her in the left hand side of her head.

His blow loosened her head from her neck. She fell to the ground, but her limbs were still twitching.

Jackson spun the shovel around and brought the handle, which had been sharpened for just this purpose, down and through her skull. She stopped moving.

“I’m sorry. But, someone did this to you. They tied your sweater here. They wanted me to find it. They wanted me to find you. I know you would want me to walk away. You would laugh at me promising to punish whoever did this, or anything like that. I can’t, I’m sorry. This isn’t for you. I need to know which one of those corpse pounders did it.”

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