This week it's Delores Blackfield turn in the ring. Here is their 461 word submission.
Her skirts felt wet. Probably muddy, though she couldn’t see, not even a hand in front of her face. A perfect night, Tukb’a had said. This darkness—no moon, no stars—felt organic, almost solid.
The men after her would be just as blind. But they had dogs.
The barks and high-pitched whines had stopped when she hit the upslope. Tukb’a’s map showed a narrow pass in the rock. In the black void she’d missed the landmarks, found it only by accident. The slope was too steep, Tukb’a said. The dogs might follow, but the men would circle around and the dogs would retreat with them. That would be her chance. Her only one.
Wind whipped her, briny and moist, at the top of the cliff where she crouched. She clenched toes on the sharp stones to stay upright. The crash of surf at the foot of the cliff roared its voice of freedom. The cave where she’d hide until the boat came must be very close. She had to find the edge, follow it to the cairn, count seven steps, then climb down, hugging the cliff face, until she felt the cave’s opening.
Perhaps the darkness was a blessing. She was terrified of heights. Better that she couldn’t see the void of rock and ocean as she climbed down. But she still had to find the edge, and in the darkness the fear of falling immobilized her.
Her ragged breath let air out too fast to satisfy her starved lungs. She forced herself to hold one, counted to five. The thunder of blood in her ears slowed and the night around her came alive. The wind through vegetation she couldn’t see, faint rustlings as invisible creatures rummaged in the underbrush. Nothing dangerous; rabbits and iguanas, her food—if she made it through the night. The only dangerous animals on the island were the dogs.
And the men.
Her arms and face stung from scratches. In this harsh landscape of rock and shrubs, everything had thorns. Her feet throbbed, one more than the other. She’d twisted the ankle, maybe sprained it. Even the lightest touch made her cringe. On the sole she felt sticky wetness.
A bark, far away. How far? Hard to tell, with the constant rush of wind. She had to get out of here, find the cave, disappear. The dogs would find her scent, but the men would think she’d fallen, smashed to pieces by the violence of the water.
Voices, closer. Move.
Agony shot up from the ankle. No matter. The beating, if they caught her, would leave her useless for days. With a tremor of vertigo, the slave pushed herself off the ground. At the edge of the cliff, one way or another, freedom waited.
And in the other corner, checking in with 493 words, is Justin Time.
You only get one parachute. There’s no point packing two for a BASE jump since you’ll be splattered pavement art before number two has time to say “Hello.”
Yeah, yeah, I lied and told my momsers there were two chutes; otherwise, she’d never have given me the thumbs up to be the youngest dude in Timmer’s BASE-jumping troupe. That lie flung me here to Hollywood and the Rampion Records Tower just in time to rock tonight’s jump, and then score a space in RR’s Summer Number One singing competition.
I tap Momsers’s number for like the millionth time and hold the cell in front of me, waiting for her voice to pour from the phone. She’s not big into remembering things, and I totally don’t want her to miss my “As Seen on TV” moment when I fly off the top of the Rampion Tower. This BASE jump will be so rad ass that she’ll forgive my lie and see that her baby Justin bird was meant to nest in Hollywood.
I get the usual nothing. Note to self, make sure Timmer zinged her my cut of our last jump fee so she can pay the cell bill.
A hunk of my bangs clogs the sweat stream flowing out of my hairline. What if Momsers watches and I eat it on the music bizzez most hallowed ground?
Sixteen is too freakin’ young to die when you have plans, like winning the Rampion Records Summer Number One.
T-shirt moment: Music Dreams Sucker Punch Death
This crazy-ass Rampion Tower is as sketch on the inside as it is on the outside. Some genius made this sculpture/building by piling up a massive stack of concrete discs that are supposed to look like vinyl records waiting their turn to drop onto an ancient turntable. The dude smacked them in the center of a plaza downwind of the Hollywood sign and called it architecture. I call it mad.
Walking in circles inside this cylinder totally messes with a guy’s internal GPS. Where are the dang elevators?
I trail one of my digits along a gold vein in the black marble wall, trying to tap the heart of greatness that pumps through this tower. Every ten steps a monitor that’s been sunk into the marble flashes Summer Number One winners from the past.
I flick the glass for luck on Gigabyte’s screen, my favorite band. I so dig those lads. Da-Da-Da Deacon points his chiseled chin at me from the next monitor. That dude was an amateur like me when he rocked first place, knocking every pro in the competition out of his way. There’s Mistress Mango with her spiked orange hair and twin, ruby red heart tats on her cheeks. Momsers used to blast Mango’s tunes 24/7 back at our crappy digs in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Yeah, yeah, this year my pipes will qualify for the Summer Number One. My amateur carcass is gonna snag first place.
See you back here at the ring again next week!