The 500 Club prompt I chose for this week reads like this:
“Writing Challenge: In 500 words, convey a sense of fear without using the word “fear” or a derivative there of (afraid, scared, frightened, etc.).”
Here is the story it sparked!
The sun shone high and basked the forest in its heat. I shivered. Light meant they could see me, as if their hearing wasn’t enough. Plus, my sweat left a smelly trail on every leaves whacking my body as I brushed by. The sun might as well serve me on a silver platter. Bastard.
Since moving was so risky, I chose not to. I covered my body and odour with as many foul-smelling plants I could get my hands on. Curled up between the roots of a tree, I waited for night to come. In night lied a spark of hope. During the day, I was basically a sitting duck on the X of a treasure map. All the chameleons had to do was follow the bread crumbs my very existence left behind.
A steady breath hit the nape of my neck. I bit back a revealing yelp. My hair standing on end were already too much movement. I stripped my breathing to the bare essential, fighting the instinctive speeding of adrenaline. Holding my breath meant coming up for air eventually; it was safer to allow just enough oxygen in to survive.
I tracked the chameleon’s progress by the stiffening caress of its sniffing. It trailed along my right side and pushed around a plant here and there. Maybe it hadn’t spotted me yet. Maybe it was playing. Either way, I knew better than to try to attack it. The toughest man of our group fought fifteen seconds tops before his neck snapped. The damned lizards were nearly invisible and slippery like freedom on this godforsaken rock.
My only out was hiding.
A foot crushed my left hip. The chameleon rested most of his weight on it. Tears streamed down my cheeks. I cursed silently. I resented the helplessness and pain that turned on the waterworks. Tears had a smell. Plants don’t cry.
The chameleon let out a long trill. It sounded almost as an echo of my suffering. I didn’t know what it meant. Would the creature move along and search for me elsewhere? Was it calling friends for diner? Signalling Grim Reaper for a pick-up?
I wished time stood still while I waited; every movement was a chance to doom myself. Assuming I hadn’t already done that. My muscles itched from the constant contraction. They didn’t twitch though the arrival of a second chameleon prompted them to. By the sound of it a third one arrived and stationed itself inches away from my left foot. My heart wanted to run for its life.
The chameleons clicked and clacked at a deafening pitch. Their conversation hovered above my body like a net waiting to drop. The intonations somehow reminded me of my parents arguing before their divorce. I didn’t understand what the discussions were about back then either.
Every nerve was ready to snap when two chameleons, including the one stepping on my hip, left. Hope washed over me a second before a chameleon’s hand closed around my neck.
November 1st, 2010 at 7:37 am
The detail you wrote this with is amazing. But I gotta say, I’m not a fan of the ending lol. I was so hoping our MC was going to get away. I’m a sucker for a happy ending lol.
November 1st, 2010 at 12:14 pm
I’m more into bittersweet endings. But yeah, this one is harsh. I promise I won’t do it too often.! 😉
November 1st, 2010 at 3:15 pm
Hi Aheïla, I really loved the tone of this short with it being very dark and with such a sense of foreboding throughout leading to that great sting at the end. I like the idea of giving yourself writing challenges and as a fellow but vastly inferior writer I can attest to the difficulty in undertaking one such as this but you have not only met your challenge you have created a thrilling little gem of a tale in the process.
November 1st, 2010 at 4:34 pm
I’m so glad to see you back here. I think I didn’t answer you last email because I was running around like a headless chicken.
Thanks for the wonderful comment about the story. I love writing challenges but you’re never the best person to judge if you aced it or not. It’s nice to know you think I did well. 😉
November 2nd, 2010 at 5:37 am
Very nicely done, I really liked this story. Creepy. I was hoping the ending would have turned out better. For a split second I thought it was going to be a happy ending.
I did sense fear, it was also very descriptive.
November 2nd, 2010 at 6:20 am
Welcome to my blog.
I guess it’s the Halloween vibe that drove me to that ending. Or maybe I’m just cruel. 😉
Thanks for your comment!