July Writing Challenge Day 26

You know, every single day since I’ve started phase 3, I’ve stopped writing after an hour and left my computer. I’ve done other things, usually sitting in my parents hot tub or reading a book for an hour or so. And every day I tell myself that I’m going to come back and write more. But I don’t. I never do.

I guess most people would think it strange that I am so perturbed by such events. From what I gather most people who call themselves writers are prone to similar problems. They sit, they produce a meager few words, and they get on with life. No muss. No fuss. I am the same, except I add both the muss and the fuss.

I go about my life and all I can do is think and wonder and speculate. I stop every thought before I act or speak upon it, and once I do I stop and think about it again. Over and over. Nothing I do or say is random. It is always carefully thought out and analyzed. And yet nothing I do or say is ever good enough, because everything I do and say is thought out and analyzed.

The worst part is that I don’t even know why I keep it up. And when I say “it” I don’t mean the thinking or the analyzing. I mean the…doing. The being. I’m never happy with what I do. I’m never happy with what happens to me or how I react to those things. I just…I don’t know why I keep going anymore.

Not really sure why I’m saying all this. Probably because I have to, and I know that nobody reads this stupid blog anyway.

Well, I guess to make a long story short, I sat down for an hour and wrote this. I told myself I’d write more, and then I didn’t. If you’ve been reading the story so far, let me know. Thanks, and enjoy.

Knackered
By E W Morrow
Word Count: 772

The shapes milled around for another minute or two, exchange muffled curses about the smell and the heat, and then there was a general motion towards the door.

“Boy!” Elbar bellowed through the darkness. Gavin jerked, his head bouncing off the slanting tin wall above him, and he hurried out of his makeshift burrow. A moment later he stood before his boss and father. “Breaks over,” he said. “Get back in there and don’t come out til sunup.”

Gavin did as he was told, sliding the door shut against the wind and his adoptive father’s wrath. The smell seemed worse than it had before. He pulled the lumpy wooden pole from the wall and began yet another round of the vats.

The night passed without incident. Sunup came and Gavin handed his pole to the day shift. Then he slept a fitful sleep. Again he dreamt of the endless amber void, and the cold, hungry light in the distance. When he awoke, the day started much the same as before. He woke a few hours before sunset, made a cursory pass of the vat shed, and then at a filling but unsatisfying meal in the kitchen. Then it was back to the shed for another lonely vigil.

He was standing on the catwalk by vat number six when he saw it. There was a particular smudge on the liquid’s bubbling surface. It was a greasy, dark red stain about a foot wide that refused to mix with the surrounding tincture. Gavin sighed and pulled his tunic up over his nose. When you got a patch like that, it usually meant that a chunk of meat had somehow shielded itself from the wholesale separation and breakdown around it, usually due to an inordinate amount of fatty tissue, and was slowly leaking blood. He aimed his pole at the center of the stain and jabbed down several times in quick succession. He hit something solid and stabbed it a few more times. Something gave and he felt the mass break apart.

A second later something bobbed to the surface. It rotated, slime dripping off it’s curves. It turned and grinned a crimson grin at Gavin. The liquid around it bubbled and hissed and then it sank back into the filth.

Gavin nearly dropped his pole. He grabbed it back at the last moment and closed his eyes tight. Fervently he told himself that he hadn’t seen what he had thought he’d seen. It hadn’t been a human skull. It hadn’t. Gavin thought himself better acquainted than even the most learned layman with the remains of all sorts of animals, but he was no expert. Perhaps it had been the head of some great ape delivered there by the circus or the National Zoo. He supposed it could even have been some sort animal skull, bovine or feline or anything else, that had been warped by disease. Yes, that must be it. No reason for alarm.

Once again, the sound of sobbing rose to fill the shed. Gavin gripped his pole tight and drew it close. It was louder now than it had been the night before, and much, much clearer. So clear that it was near impossible to discount as anything other than human in origin. Gavin shuddered and yelled into the sticky, odorous gloom.

“Shut up!” he cried. “What reason do you have to cry? You’ll be gone in a few days. A week at most. You aren’t trapped here. You don’t have to spend the rest of your life in this awful place! If anyone has the right to cry it’s me!”

The shed wasn’t large enough to echo, but somehow it seemed large enough to swallow his tantrum and then return it with empty indifference. Then sobs broke the silence of the shed. Not the disembodied cries of the vats, but the frantic, desperate tears of Gavin.

“You’re wrong.”

For the second time in two days, Gavin completely and totally froze. Even his tears seemed glued to his face. His breath came low and ragged, and now he clutched his pole not in comfort but in fear.

“Who—who’s there?” Gavin asked the emptiness. “What do you mean?”

“You’re wrong,” the voice repeated. It was calm, but slightly discouraged. “You say we aren’t trapped here, but we are.”

“Wha—who’s there?” Gavin rounded the shed, checking every nook, cranny, and gap that he knew someone could hide in.

“Do you really have to ask?” Again the voice sounded bored, and even though he was on the opposite side of the shed, Gavin heard it just as clearly as he had a moment ago.