The Home Fires

Selorian: The swamps were filled with gators, poisonous snakes , and other dangers. None of those were what worried him. #storystarters

The swamps were filled with gators, poisonous snakes, and other dangers. None of those were what worried him. After all Jeramy had grown up in these swamps, he knew the calls of the animals and the slipper-soft sound of an alligator. People where always supprised how fast they moved – Even lethargic, they were lethal!

He punted his flat wide boat across murky water towards stilted houses. The grey milky wood of them, smooth and skeletal, was decked with fresh flowers, vines cut from monsterous trees around him. The flowers, fleshy and sweet smelling, would live for a few weeks, then puss into brown sludge over night – they were already dead, they just didn’t realise it. Just like the inhabitants of the houses.

Jeramy tied the boat up and hefted himself up the rope ladder, swaying, feeling heavy in his leather trench coat and armaments, his hat trapped sweat on his brow – clothing unsuited for the muggy swamps. He had known this but they were his identity now, his life away from the infested swamps. His body remembered this world though, remembered daring to swing across the gator pools and licking poisonous frogs with his play mates.

He remembered cheering as the older boys went off to do their initiations and how he had been confused when his little sister Miriam had gone with them and not come back. How he had searched the swamps for her and seen the coldness grow in his mother.

The flowers, looking like dismembered body bits, hampered his rise to the platform. Drums were banging out a fast tempo that hung in the air. Every five years this came round, every five years, this would be the second since his own coming of age, since his own failure to become part of it. He shouldn’t have survived the punishment for that failure – the scars on his arms tingled.

‘Halt! were do you come from?’ Asked the withered man before him, the milk teeth necklace he wore jangled as he rose. Mariam’s smiling face surged in Jeramy’s memory, Jenna’s frightened one replaced it, sobbing with blood gushing from her mouth.

‘I am no stranger here, Padre,’ Jeramy rasped. Vocal cords did not mend well.

The priest looked at him, skin browned by the wind and sun that streamed through the trees over the stretches of murky water. ‘I do not know you are you from one of the neighbouring homesteads?’. Jeramy shock his head. Others had begun appearing around him, little bare legged children, in tattered threadbare clothes. Women, solemn in age and bright with youth.

‘Ah but Padre, you created me.’ Jeramy smiled. His mother, old and haggard, appeared. His smile shuddered.

‘Jeramy?’ she asked in a whisper, how could she know? He face was different now, his voice, everything really.

The Priest gave a signal, Jeramy saw the men of the village edging in for the attack. ‘Jeramy, our accursed son! You are back are you? You failed in you rite of passage – banishment is the punishment! You should not have returned.’ With a flick of his hand the Priest set the strength of the village on him. He sliced through them, indiscriminatly knowing he was cutting down kin – but they had gone through the rite, they must die. The bile rose, anger threatened to mist his vision at the thought of his sister and how some of them passed that rite.

Women and children huddled around, splattered with their men’s blood, crying softly. The Priest still stood, white with shock; he looked grey and dirty. Jeramy smiled, ‘Exiled? He tells you all those who fail are exiled? And what of the girls? What does he tell you of them?’

Silence filled the room, except swamps are never quiet, and the weeping of children could not be stemmed – he didn’t want it to be – a lot more tears needed to be shed – more blood to be spilt.

‘He says they go off to the Dome-Cities to be educated and have a life we hope they’ll return with one day.’ One of the women said.

‘Have any?’ he asked knowing the answer. They shook their heads.

‘Tell them, Padre’ he rasped, ‘tell them what you actually do with their children,’ the Priest shuddered, glaring.

‘I founded and saved this community! After the great war! The war to end all wars! There are no domed-cities, we are what’s left – here in the swamps.’ Whispers surged, fear had gripped these people.

‘Then where do you send the little girls?’ his mother asked suddenly.

The Priest stood, not answering.

Jeramy smiled lopsidedly, ‘I failed the ritual because I couldn’t stomach what he said should happen to Jenna.’

He spotted the woman he thought was Jenna’s mother – her head flicked up from the child she was cuddling. ‘He takes us to a cave at the edge of the swamp and then… then he takes the girl and gets the boys to do the same, after each had pulled one of her teeth out.’ Cries went up from the women. ‘I do not know what comes next as he slit my wrists and pushed me in the gator pool.’

His mother and the other women were all staring at the Priest. He smiled. ‘But ladies the girls live on, they are with us still! I bring them back to the village’ he said. More horror as they realised whaat the ceremonial meat was. His mother was trembling, she picked up the Priest’s ceremonial stick.

‘I have to keep the population down! We are the only survivors!’ he said.

‘We are not,’ Jeramy hissed, ‘there was one bomb, a team from the cities found me, skull fractured, drowned and half eaten – the world still exists, they re-built me father!’

‘Then why did you return?’ the Priest asked.

‘To kill the guilty ones, that’s my job now, and all of these… men they had tortured a child too death they had not said no, and worse they did not tell the women!’

Jeramy, pulled out a blunt nosed gun and stood resolute, but he could not pull the trigger, the Priests eyes were yellow like the a true preditor, his mother swung the staff with a sickening sound, the other women moved in, ripping the Priest apart.

Technically they were guilty too, but Jeramy decided to ignore that fact – just this once.

Posted: Wednesday, January 27th, 2010 @ 10:31 am
Categories: Uncategorized.
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26 Responses to “The Home Fires”

  1. Jonathan Slaton Says:

    That is a particularly scary, and depressing tale.

  2. David G Shrock Says:

    Interesting direction on the storystart. Nice take on the rite of passage theme including isolated people keeping secrets. Rebuilt Jeramy setting things straight.

  3. admin Says:

    I know – I didn’t like writing it.

    I’m sorry I should have put a warning on it :/

    I sort of have two types of story – sweet or dark and upsetting.

  4. Cascade Lily Says:

    Lots of weird, dark stuff going on in this flash. The dialog felt a bit stodgy – but hard to fit enough backstory into a short piece like this one. I have a ‘Jeremy’ in my flash this week too :)

  5. admin Says:

    Yeah I culled a lot of dialogue to make it fit, I have to say!

    Was worried it was sounding like Arnie should be playing the lead – I think this is one that is going to be expanded on in future to be honest. It wanted to be a longer piece.

    Thanks

    Sarah/Saffy

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