Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rainy Night Blog Fest

Rainy Night Blogfest for Christine over at The Writer's Hole

From my unpublished novella, Dark Woods. Henry is about 10 years old.

The rain began late that night, a quiet shower dripping from the treetops. No lightning or thunder interrupted the steady patter of droplets against the leaves and Henry's blue tarp. The rain fell straight down in the stagnant air. Water sizzled in the fire and on the burning summer ground, hard and hot as pavement.

Henry huddled beneath the tarp with the dogs on either side of him. He sat cross-legged and used the Army shovel to hack a deeper water trench around his sleeping area. Despite its calm nature, the rain was actually a downpour, and puddles accumulated around Henry and filled up his fire pit.

Henry wished he'd brought some fire wood under his tarp. He wished he'd set up a fire pit closer to the tarp, or better yet, beneath the tarp. But the tarp barely covered him and the dogs. He wished he had a larger tarp. He wished he had a flashlight that worked, or even a lantern he could light.

He wished he had matches to light the lantern.

Satisfied with the water trench around him and the dogs, Henry watched the fire die down and the fire pit fill with water. Two charred crawfish shells floated to the edge of the fire pit and crept toward the trees atop a flowing puddle of gray ash. The ping-sizzle of the raindrops died off into a muddy slap, taking with it the last remaining light. Darkness wrapped around Henry so thick he could barely tell his eyes were open.


Henry couldn't see much, but he could hear. The rain ebbed and flowed, and after a while began to let up, and that's when he heard the squealing. The dogs had perked their ears long moments before, hearing the things only dogs can hear, and Whiskey raised his head and issued a few warning growls, but the rain had masked the sounds Henry now could hear.

Henry heard a raucous screech followed by a few deep thumps that he could feel in the ground below him. The screams of pain, heavy grunts of anger. Nothing in the darkness moved, and Henry could barely see to the edge of his camp.

Henry wrapped his hands around the .30-30 rifle, flicking the safety on and off as he waited to see if it would come nearer.

Whiskey stood and shook his coat, splattering Henry's cheek and arm with flicks of mud. The dog growled deep in his chest. Henry saw the spiked outline of the dog's rustled hair standing on end along his spine, his tail low but not between his legs, just out of the way, his flanks wound tight and ready to spring. Scotch stood and wagged his tail and barked once and then licked the splatter marks off Henry's cheek.

The rain drizzled through the treetops in an unsteady buzz. Henry heard clumping footsteps that became wet and sloshy as they grew nearer to Henry's camp. They were hooves, he could tell from the clopping sound they made against the roots, and large, more than one set of hooves, two or three maybe, overlapping as they navigated the dark woods. He felt the hooves pound against the forest floor. Sharp cries of pain issued forth from the underbrush, something crashing through the briars and thorns and cracking limbs beneath its feet.

- Eric


Ted Cross said...

You do lovely description.

Matthew MacNish said...

Awesome. It feels very vivid. Thanks Eric.

Amie McCracken said...

But what is happening? You can't drop it there.

Love it, Scotch and Whiskey. Great dog names.

The rain is described so well I feel as if I'm in that tarp with him.

Michelle Gregory said...

great last paragraph. makes me want to keep reading.

Will Burke said...

Great discription of rain on fire! Now I want to know why he's camping, and what the people on horse-back are up to.

Olivia J. Herrell, writing as O.J. Barré said...

Ooo, this is a wonderful read. Lots of tension and I could feel the misery of being in the rain with no fire and not knowing what was going on outside. It sounded like Whiskey was sensing an enemy, but then Scotch was wagging his tail. Did he recognize a friend?

Great post, that rebel, Olivia

Summer Ross said...

You have some seriously good descriptions in this piece. well done. my favorite line: "The rain drizzled through the treetops in an unsteady buzz."

Wendy Tyler Ryan said...

Nice read, great writing, the worst thing I can say - the odd repetitive word, however, in the context of the whole story, and given Henry's age, it might be fine. You drew us in right away and kept us in your world.

Thanks, it was a pleasure.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

No fair leaving us hanging.

Your descriptions put us right there in the hard rain with Henry. The storm without, the danger hidden by the night and the rain.

Excellently done. Thanks for dropping by my post and commenting. Roland

E. Arroyo said...

Nice tension. Makes me wonder who Henry is hiding from, why he needs that gun. Great job!

Nicole Murray said...

I definitely felt this one. Wonderful job bringing us into the story and great tension!

Jemi Fraser said...

Very nice! I want the next scene!

Unknown said...

Great scene! Love the barrage of "he wished"s at the beginning, though the "satisfied" right after jarrs the imagery a little. "ping-sizzle" is a great word, btw.

Also, thank you for the highly amusing comment you left on my blog. Manly word burp, ROLF.


Franklin Beaumont said...

Tense and intriguing. You left me wanting more, and certainly provoked my curiosity about the novella this is taken from.

Raquel Byrnes said...

I CANNOT belive you left me with a cliff-hanger! Grrr!

You have the most amazing way of showing misery without actually telling us...wonderful lines there about the crawfish and the ash just floating.

Where is this boy's mother and why is he so crappily armed for camping? These details really made me connect with and worry about your character from the beginning.

Excellent excerpt, Eric.

Eric W. Trant said...

Thanks for the comments! Keep em coming.

I'll have to look at that word "satisfied" that Tessa brought up. Funny how something so seemingly innocuous can jar a reader.

- Eric

Unknown said...

Lovely description of the rain, and an undercurrent of tension in the second part.

Brenda Drake said...

Awww, what the heck happens next?!? Great description and tension. I think Scotch has been sneaking a little from the beer cooler, huh? I love that he's clueless to the danger even when Whiskey is all up and alert. Reminds me of this little fluffy dog cuddling at my feet at the moment. :D

RaShelle Workman said...

Hi Eric - I love all the wishing - dissatisfaction with the situation - yet still dealing with life. Isn't that how it is? He's a fighter. And I loved the difference in the dogs as well. I have three myself and their characteristics are as differenct as two different people. Enjoyable read.

dolorah said...

I'm seriously creeped out - and I like it. As a flash fiction or an excerpt, this thing absolutely hits its mark.

Did you write this staring at your own profile pix? Cuz I could totally see you in this scene.

For all its lack of action, it was packed with forward progress. I know sometimes you have problems keeping the reader’s connection if there isn't enough action to satisfy YOURSELF as a writer; but this just rocks Eric. You want to know how it worked for me?

You start out so distant with the rain and the night, giving a feel for the setting as you focus closer on Henry his little island, then internalize the entire scene with the rain and setting and how it feels to Henry. How he copes with the adversity of his environment.

I was connected to Henry his dogs, the rain and even the tarp that kept the elements at bay. When he picked up that "Army shovel to hack a deeper trench" I got such a vivid character sketch in my mind.

“Darkness wrapped around Henry so thick he could barely tell his eyes were open.”

Then you started to pull back again, to fill in the sounds, the tension of the night. The reaction of the dogs just before his own senses picked up on it. For me, naming the dog at that moment made both secondary characters; they were no longer a part of the scenery. And then you added something new - the gun. That changed the flavor of the piece - the tone - and amped up the tension to climax proportions.

I like how only Henry’s only action was “flicking the safety on and off”, and the close attention he paid to the reactions of the dogs, the vibrations of the ground under him, the movement and sounds in the wider forest. My heart beat faster as the “sharp cries of pain issued forth”, even though I could clearly see this was the end. Because I was totally committed to seeing what would come out of the dark; who was the hunter, the hunted. What would Henry’s reaction be, especially since the dogs were on guard, but not overly defensive.

Is it aliens? Is it werewolves/vampires chasing down their nightly meal? Is it just a cougar feeding off the herd?

Oh you mean, mean author fiend! To drop me at the height of the action. To make me wish, as Henry did, for so many things that I’m sure will not be satisfied. Curse you Eric!

Hmm, is this longer than your excerpt? Should I just say I enjoyed this immensely?

Amanda Borenstadt said...

I love your descriptions. They're so vivid. And now that you've left me hanging, I need to know what happens to Henry. Great scene!

Jai Joshi said...

You've got me intrigued. I wanna know who was coming towards him!

How cool is it that I didn't even know about the rainy day blogfest but ended up blogging about rain yesterday anyway? I must be picking up psychic cyber waves.


Olivia J. Herrell, writing as O.J. Barré said...

Hi Eric, I have a little something over at my blog for you if you'd like to stop on by. And, for the record, I was okay with the 'Satisfied' transition.

~that rebel, Olivia

VR Barkowski said...

Not fair to end there! I think we should ban cliffhangers from blogfests. Okay, not really… but still. Love your clear, evocative descriptions. I could smell the fetid air, feel the rain, the heat and the hard ground. I, too, liked the "wished" paragraph, there's so much regret and yearning there.

Now, that said, what is crashing through bushes????

Anonymous said...

Great entry! Definitely rainy, and so vividly described! Loved how you incorporated all the senses here: the sound of rain, the mud and wet-dog spray. You really bring the scene to life with your details!

Nighfala said...

Eric ~ you have a fantastic imagination. I am resisting the urge to edit. You got my comments on the other story, so you know the kind of thing I'm likely to say.

Focus, dude! Focus. One or two details is enough.

With that said... you are still totally awesome. I, too, wish it weren't a cliffhanger. But then, you kind of scared me so perhaps it's a good thing. Do I really want to know?

By the way, Henry is an incredible mature ten-year-old. I really like him.