Saturday, February 13, 2010

A story fragment

A full moon faintly illuminated the faces of seven men, each drawn with pain and exhaustion. They stood in a rough semi-circle near a log that was once a mighty tree. A cool breeze rustled leaves in the forest overhead. Tree branches swayed with the breeze, revealing and then hiding patches of starlit sky. The men stared blankly at each other, or at nothing in particular.

Finally, one of the men lifted his head to gaze at the sky, and said,

   "We can't stay here."

Another voice asked,

   "What about the others? We can't leave them here."

A man with a graying beard and wrinkled face took a step forward, and answered,

   "We will have to leave them where they are."
  
He paused, then said,

   "Joshua, take your men west to the river and follow it downstream. There is a good chance you'll find a road, or perhaps a town. From there you can make your way home. Don't wait for us."

Joshua had turned away from the rest of the group, but spun around to ask,

   "What do you mean? Aren't you and Henry coming with us?"

The older man simply stared back at Joshua. The man named Henry smiled grimly and replied,

   "Don't worry, we'll catch up with you soon enough."