The Marauders are trying something new! We are now providing each other with prompts and writing accordingly. The prompt for this piece can be found below:
1. Aim for 3-5 pages.
2. The action happens over a long weekend.
3. Open with a line of exposition. The protagonist watches the antagonist arrive.
4. The antagonist has something the protagonist wants.
5. Over the course of the weekend, the protagonist has the chance to take this object of desire . . . or not.
6. The item should be symbolic. It should be the controlling metaphor and the title of the story.
7. Nothing is explained. We are told nothing or almost nothing. Everything unfolds through action, detail, and description.
I’m not going to lie; this was challenging for me. Forgive the gruesome, circular nature of this story. I suppose since I am ill, I wanted to share my misery with the protagonist. Although I do think he has it much wose than I!
Tendrils of Fire
By M.G. Knight
He has come again.
I can see Him for but a moment before the brown feathers envelope my vision, His white beard and white eyes like ghostly apparitions in the darkness of my island.
“You need but say five words, cousin, and the pain shall end.”
In between the rustling of feathers, the white-hot searing in my stomach, the warm ooze of blood running its path down my naked abdomen, His voice is like a deep purr in the night.
The coarse ropes bound upon my wrists do not hurt now that my innards lay in the open air. At least that is done for the present. Ah, and there is the beak, consuming my vision as it scrapes against my face until it discovers its target. A late meeting, then. A tug, a light pop. I refrain from screaming as a different sort of darkness folds over my left eye, which—through my remaining orb—I can see dangling from the eagle’s sharp beak.
“It is right here,” He continues, and I can smell the midnight-cloud scent of him over the metallic tang of blood. Flames crackle over the rustling of the wings. “Say the words, take it up, and you will be free.”
I merely grimace as the eagle’s beak opens in front of my right eye and scoops it out. Utter darkness.
Once, I would succumb to that darkness, to the fire and twisting agony strewn throughout my body. Now, however, I only laugh.
“Same time tomorrow?” I say as His scent draws nearer.
His cold hands feel about my stomach, pushing and pulling until—though blind I may be—white stars explode in front of me. “Tomorrow I will take your tongue, as well.”
I do not fear this, for I need my tongue to say those words, to repair the reputation I have shattered.
The hands still, and I wait for the usual layer of cool mist. It comes slower tonight, ensuring I feel each and every stitch as my guts return to their host, as my eyes reattach amid the sensation of a fire too heated to truly be hot. Even so, the world remains dim. It typically takes long enough for Apollo to begin his race through the sky before sight returns.
Footsteps. Metal going clang clang against the stone as He walks off. I can feel it again, the coarse rope scraping my wrists raw.
“To tomorrow then,” I say, and my voice is raspy with lack of water.
The footsteps halt and heat sears along my fingers. I can’t withhold my scream as the torch licks my arm, the magical tendril of flame consuming my flesh.
“To tomorrow,” He says, removing it.
It continues to crackle throughout the remainder of the night. Always, forever crackling.
“Basanos, how good to see you. A midday meeting today, then?”
The eagle cocks its head at me, its yellow eyes eager as it hops closer and closer, making small, inquisitive noises as if it can’t quite remember that we did this yesterday.
Five words. Five words. Five words, it seems to say as it hops nearer.
The torch stuck in the stone next to me flares.
I look away as the eagle flutters onto my stomach, its sharp talons tearing at my newly-restored flesh. The beak dips.
It never starts that horrid. It is quite like being pinched. But soon.
Sweat beads across my body. He’s not here, and I let out the screams as the pinching becomes ripping, as the beak pierces through my soft skin and into my liver, as my entrails are pierced again and again and again and my blood paints the brown feathers and stone behind me red.
The eyes are last today. Liver. Entrails. Eyes. Eyes. Intestines.
This time, when Basanos has had his fill He does not appear. Instead, I lay upon my rock, with the crackling flame to keep me company. I can feel nothing and everything and nothing again.
Perhaps it would not be so dreadful of me to say those vile words, to pick up the flame.
Ah, but then I think of her. And my tongue remains still.
He does not come until night has fallen, and when He does, the cool mist hurts even worse than the original wounds.
I can hear myself screaming, but I do not feel them erupting from my throat.
Tonight, he restores my vision immediately. He only nods to the fire when He sees me watching. “It can end,” He says, and leaves me.
How long have I been chained to this rock, watching the sky for my torturer to appear? How many days, years, millennia?
The tally next to my hand says only two. Two days. Perhaps I quit recording.
Waves splash against my solitary rock, the salt stinging my eyes. I wonder if she still lives, if she is looking across the sea as I do now or if she has long fallen to dust.
The fire pops and crackles, crackles and pops. Five words. Only five words and I am free.
“I will return the fire,” Poseidon calls on the sea breeze that whips the wind about my small rock.
“I will return the fire,” Apollo whispers from the sky as his chariot leaps across it.
“I will return the fire,” Zeus’s purr slithers from next to the flame.
I only look at the fire. Her fire. The fire that would keep her warm and well, that would feed her children and her children’s children.
The eagle lands at my feet.
I lean my head back onto my stone. “I will not return the fire,” I say.
The flame continues to crackle. Always, forever crackling.