Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Wordy Thursday

The opening section of a short Dr Who story I wrote for a competition Robin talked me into entering. It didn't even get shortlisted. How humiliating. My only consolation is that Robin's didn't get shortlisted either!

I ran with all the others, a small part of one great mass of panicking humanity. We ran, stumbled, fought our frightened way across the rubble-strewn plain that had once been our town. There was no reasoning, no plan. It was a stampede. Blind terror impelled us; our only purpose: escape.

Because I was small and wiry, I made better progress than the adults. I dodged round lumbering thighs and leapfrogged nimbly over those who fell. My survival instinct was sharply honed. My parents, sisters, friends and neighbours had all been taken and devoured by the Hooded Ones in the first wave of attacks on New London. Because I had no one to support me, to ask for advice, I had become like an animal, unhindered by doubts or uncertainty. I existed to survive. At the age of twelve I was a veteran.

My progress was made swifter still when the Hooded Ones fell upon us. Their silent craft cast wing-shaped shadows on the seething crowd and a soft metallic whirring, just audible above the cries and footfalls of the crowd, warned of the coming of the Snares. The clawed, flexible tentacles snatched up one – two – three – a dozen people in rapid succession. Few of their prey even had the time to scream before their struggling bodies vanished into the bellies of the spacecraft and then, no doubt, into the bellies of the Hooded Ones themselves. In this horrible way, the crowd soon thinned and I had more room to manoeuvre.

My smaller size also helped protect me from the Snares, for the taller adults attracted them first. However, when a woman running beside me tripped and fell, the Snare which had aimed for her swung over to me instead. I felt it brush the back of my neck as I, too, threw myself down. The claw snapped inches from my head, then returned to its original victim. As it latched onto her, the woman squealed with despair. Her shoe clattered down beside me.

This incident saved my life and led to the salvation of all of us.

Lying prostrate, only I of all the desperate crowd noticed the dim light pulsating from somewhere below the ground. Instinctively, I made for it, scuttling lizard-like over the blocks of rubble. The light emanated from a deep well of shadow beneath a slab of concrete ripped up from the shattered roadway. As Snares snapped above me, I dove under the overhang, then fell, barking my arms and knees on a short flight of stairs which dropped down into the gloom. I lay sprawled on the steps for a moment, then cautiously made my way down to the source of the flashing light.

(Humiliated I might have been but I might post the next bit next week anyway).

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