Tresk: A Continuing Story Part 1

The first time I posted this, it showed up in an almost unreadable format. I'm trying again, this time with the edited version.

For a long time now, I have toyed with the idea of writing a serial story. The other night I was feeling rather reckless and inspired, so I decided to just go ahead and jump in. I have my plot worked out, so all I really need to do is write it down. I have already written a short story about some of the characters you will find in this piece, but now I want to lengthen their lives by putting them in a novel. My goal will be to post a new segment each month. That is the goal. In reality, I will probably get busy with one of the other innumerable other projects I'm always getting sucked into and forget to post anything for six months. Anyway, I'm hoping that this project will accomplish several things for me: 1) Hold me (somewhat) accountable to working on one story. 2) Bring me constructive criticism from people like...well...you. 3) Break a long story up into manageable pieces so that it won't be so intimidating to write. Anyway, we'll see how this goes. I hope that, if nothing else, this story may provide you with a few hours of entertainment.

*********

The search was useless. I had told myself this a hundred times, but my mind still clung to the thin shreds of hope. I had spent the entire morning in this patch of miserable garden. I had crawled back and forth along the rows, peering, feeling with my fingers, willing myself to find one tiny yam  I might have overlooked before. No success. Not the smallest yam had been turned up by my thorough search. I sank down on the parched ground, discouraged and exhausted. The hot sun was starting to affect me. Black spots danced before my eyes, and my limbs felt clumsy and heavy. A persistent buzzing noise had started at the back of my skull. I stared dully at a handful of powder-dry dirt, watching as the hot wind blew it away. The wind seemed to scatter my hopes along with the soil. Stark reality was staring me in the face. There are no potatoes left. My thoughts spelled out each word with dreadful clarity. There is nothing. We will not have noon-meal today.

I did not want to return to the hut. I did not want to see Mother's hunger-haunted eyes. I did not want to hear the weak, ceaseless crying of my sister. I did not want to face the helplessness of my once-strong father. I couldn't decide which was harder to bear: the hunger pains that constatnly gnawed at me, or watching my family die by inches. They were dying. I faced that fact and stared it down. And trembled. They were dying, and there was noting I could do about it. There were those who could have helped, but they had turned their backs on us. What was it Father had said? "We should be proud, son, for the great empire of Idalis was built on the backs of common soldiers like us. Without us, it could never exist." Yes, the nobles built and empire on our backs, and then left us to starve in our barren fields.

My thoughts reverted to the the all-important subject of food. Surely, there has to be food somewhere. I needed it. My body demanded it loudly, but more importantly, the survival of my family depended on me finding food. And soon. Where was I to find food, or the money to buy it? I turned this question over and over in my mind. Food...food...but there was none, at least for me. Two years of drought had shriveled all the crops to a mere pittance of their usual bounty. The only food goods that came into Idalis were brought in from countries unaffected by the drought, and the cost of importing these items had driven prices up to a height that only the rich could afford. If I wanted to eat, I must have money. When I was a young boy, I had often fantasized about finding a dragon hoard or a chest of golden coins beside the road. My cracked lips turned up in a smile as I remembered the hours I had spent daydreaming. Now, I reflected, I'd be glad of a single gold coin. 

I had been sitting down for several minutes as I thought. The short span of rest had left me feeling a little recovered, so I stood to my feet and headed for home. My family's hut was not far away. It stood in a dip on the ground, fringed with a growth of ragged, drought-blasted trees. I crossed the dusty fields and entered the cover of the foliage. The drying leaves made a low, rasping moan as the wind blew through them, but at least they provided a little shade. 

Mother looked up, hopeful, when I appeared at the door. I shook my head and displayed my empty hands as an answer to her mute question. I could not bear to speak the words that would shatter her hopes. A look of desperation flicked across Mother's face, then, characteristically resigned, she bowed her head and accepted deafeat.

Father had been a witness to our wordless interchange. He broke the heavy silence with a bitter laugh. "Who could have guessed that we would come to this? Me, the best swordsman in the 5th, and you, Theta, the prettiest woman..." his voice faltered, "...and our son out scavenging the fields for yams! If only I had listened to you that day!" Father looked down disgustedly at his twisted body, and fell silent.

"But we can not give up!" I exclaimed. "There must be some way to buy food, or, or..."

"Steal it, you mean?" Father broke in. "A good idea, my son." His voice dripped sarcasm. "At least this Zaga-cursed famine will benefit the Grak."

"Tresk, please!" Mother reached out her hands beseechingly. "Do not put yourself in danger of the Grak."

"Well, someone has to provide." I argued. I allowed a bit of emphasis to rest on the 'someone'. Father's sarcasm had stung me, and, childishly, I stung back. I was instantly sorry when I saw a shadow come over his clear blue eyes. He dropped his gaze once more to his deformities.

There were too many emotions in the hut. Too much conflict. Fear, anger, bitterness, and uncertainty hung thickly in the air, and surmounting all was the grim specter of famine. Feeling the need to escape, I turned back out of the hut. I crossed the cleared area where Mother had her fire pit and grinding stones and entered the trees.

One of these trees had always been my favorite. It was huge old oak, whose strong roots gnarled and rumpled the ground around it for many feet. I had discovered that one of its broad branches grew straight out from the trunk to form a seat. I climbed to this perch and sat with my back to the broad tree trunk, thinking.

"Who could have guessed that we would come to this? Me, the best swordsman in the 5th..."Father's words played over and over through my mind. He has lost so much. Why did I have to hurt him again. Why? I angrily asked myself. The doughty swordsman had survived countless battles to come home and be wounded most deeply by his own son. He had been such a great man. Truly the best swordsman in the 5th Battalion. Wait! My mind suddenly snapped to attention and caught at one word. 'Swordsman'. Father's sword! In my mind's eye I could see it, hanging in its accustomed place on the wall above Mother and Father's bed.

Sell the sword! I thought. Father will never need it again. It is just a plain weapon, but it will bring something. Enough to feed us for a few days.

A pleasant sensation flowed over me. Hope. But mixed with it was a little shiver of fear. 'What if I am caught?' I wondered. I had heard the stories. I was not certain which of them to believe ans which to disregard, but the very mystery seemed to make the prospect of capture more horrible. 'No time for worries.' I told myself sternly. 'This is your only chance. Take it.' Of one thing I was absolutely certain: I should not breathe a word of this to either Mother or Father. I knew they would never let me go.

Comments

  1. at the back of my skul.- should be skull
    word with dradful clarity. - should be dreadful?
    nobles built and empire - an empire?
    Me, the best swordsman in the 5th - I, the best?
    Me, the best..." - forgot the quotation at the beginning of the sentence.

    You mention multiple times that the father is the best swordsman. Is this for effect, as the son has probably been annoyed himself by the statement over and over again?

    Also, when putting thoughts into a story, most writers use either quotations or italics, not both. I think most use italics because it costs less when printing (less characters), but that is up to you. Having both seems a little redundant.

    Hope these comments help Janie. Hope you are having a great time in England

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Chad. Most of the mistakes you caught are the result of me typing too quickly. I had weeded all those mistakes out of the first version, but Blogger wouldn't post it properly when I copied and pasted, so I had to re-type it. I will go back and fix all of those problems.

    ReplyDelete

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