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WEP: FAILURE

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

I've been working on my Write . .Edit . .Publish excerpt off and on for several days, and when I went to bed last night it was still unfinished, unpolished and unpublished. I haven't been blogging/socializing lately, so I figured I could at least read and comment on all the other submissions. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the linky for May's prompt, FAILURE, was still open.



I don't guarantee the 811 word excerpt feels finished, or polished, but it is posted. This is part of a larger project I'm writing at for my son. He's likely to 40 when I finally finish this YA Dystopia. (Yes, I know, I don't read/write YA which is why its taking so long.)
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Standing watch has never been my favorite activity. Well, it’s the lack of activity that bothers me.  I’ve been pacing the gym roof for two hours waiting for sundown, a set of binoculars practically glued to my eyeballs.  Sun glints off the rooftops, sending stabbing pains of light all the way to the back of my head. I've always been an early riser, rarely use sunglasses, so this sudden sensitivity to the waning light is starting to worry me.

I usually pull my stint during the pre-dawn hours, relieving the shift as their eyes are tiring, whatever booze or drugs they used to get through the night are wearing off.
Morning watch also has a selfish reward: it keeps the bugs from eating my face off as I try to sleep next to my girlfriend in the nurse’s office. Mosquitoes in this area were aggressive enough before the Insectoid aliens arrived, but now the tire dump two miles outside of the school grounds was a breeding ground for natural Earth-bound Aedes Mosquitos as large as Monarch Moths. Those big ass suckers aren’t picky about what’s on the menu either.

I sense more than see movement off to my left, near the back fence of the baseball field. I don’t need the binoculars to recognize the tie-died shirt that Rusty never takes off, or the purple and pink hair that belongs to his girlfriend. I don’t see the sentry that should be guarding the broken slats so I unclip the handheld radio.

“Gabe, look smart. Rusty and Tandy are trying to slip over the fence again. Fucking idiots.”

It takes a minute before Gabe staggers out of the dugout, zipping his pants and fumbling with the M9 we stole from the National Guard depo just after all this began. The lovers cover their ears so I know he’s yelling at them – I can almost make out the curse words even from this distance. After some shoving and prodding Tandy grabs Rusty’s hand and starts tugging him back towards the school. Gabe gives me a thumbs up and heads back to the dugout.

How many times have I warned the watchers no sex, drugs, or booze while on duty? I want to yell at him, but what’s the point.

Last week Jimmy Huntell somehow enticed Lucy Plume to sneak out after chores and meet him for some afternoon delight up near the quarry. Global warming slowly diminished the water level, but it’s still deep enough that some kids think its safe to swim up there, never mind the stories of kids falling off frayed rope ladders and drowning because the rock wall was too smooth to climb and nobody knew they were there.

Jimmy was nothing but a shriveled husk when my patrol located the couple, but Lucy was flat on her stomach, her back, legs and arms covered with black and white striped, skeletal bugs I’d never seen before. Once the shooting started, most of the bugs took flight and joined the battle, swooping in and slashing faces and hands with razor sharp legs and gaping proboscis. I lost two of my best troopers in that fight; one when a spray of gunfire from Ray’s M9 ripped his head off, the other took several disrupter hits from the Insectoids.

The bugs have no odor when they’re live, but the putrid smell when you kill one is bad enough to make a man vomit his last meal. All told we killed four, wounded two and scared off two small ones that never even pulled a disrupter. Most of the mosquitoes flew off after their initial attack; but several never detached from Lucy’s naked body. Ray had a lighter and he burned off four. The last one was so bloated it couldn't fly off, and we stuffed it and the burnt bodies into a back pack to take to General Guff.

I was on this gym roof in the heat of the day because of those overgrown mosquitoes. I failed to save Jimmy, but his death could still serve a purpose. Over the last few months the annoying buzzing inside my head that I've lived with for most of my life has started to make sense; like language that forms images in my mind. I can hear the buzzing over a mile away, which is how I knew where to find our missing lovers. I got mental images of the feast that’s still giving me nightmares.

Yep; if the option to see a school psychologist was available I’d probably sneak off to the office.

General Guff wanted more live bodies, and since Aedes were day feeders and breeders, I hoped this new breed was still mosquito enough to sleep during the night. I hadn’t collected bugs since I was in the fifth grade, but this seemed like a good time to clean out the mayonnaise jars and go exploring.
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Visit the linky at Write . .Edit . .Publish to read more interpretations of the FAILURE prompt, or to write and post your own entry.

Have a good weekend everyone!



17 comments:

N. R. Williams said...

Giant bugs! Yuck! Well written Donna.
Nancy

D.G. Hudson said...

I'm going to be looking for incoming insect flyers after reading that. I had visions of Starship Troopers with the sharp mandibles, etc. I moved north to get away from big bugs. . .

You really know to set the mood, Donna.

D.G. Hudson said...

Correction:. . .know HOW to set the mood. Lazy fingers.

Denise Covey said...

Donna, how awesome is this! You're going to be downright dangerous when it's polished. You took me right into the scene. Great edgy atmosphere. I reckon you got this idea one night when you and your son were sitting outside slapping mosquitoes that were having their own little blood-sucking party. It's your way of fighting back, isn't it? I like the realistic coupled with sci-fi elements.

An enjoyable weekend read, Donna. Thanks for posting for WEP. And good luck finishing your YA novel...

Denise

Trisha F said...

Love your work, as usual. You always have something pretty out there to share, but it's always well-written too. :)

I was amused by the "mosquito enough" thing - sort of like "man enough" but for mozzies.

Midnight scribbles said...

Hi Donna, didn't seem unpolished one bit! A fun read and made for a picturesque setting.

Nilanjana Bose said...

Wow, overgrown mosquito invasion! Fun and scary at the same time. Why is the MC light sensitive now if he hasn't been before? and also the buzzing in his head, all very intriguing! Would love to know more.

It didn't seem unpolished to me, Donna.

Best of luck finishing the novel.

Nilanjana Bose said...

Wow, overgrown mosquito invasion! Fun and scary at the same time. Why is the MC light sensitive now if he hasn't been before? and also the buzzing in his head, all very intriguing! Would love to know more.

It didn't seem unpolished to me, Donna.

Best of luck finishing the novel.

Sally said...

Quite a read although bugs aren't my thing (ugh) you kept me reading until the very end.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I really liked it, Donna. The main character had a very distinct voice and the setting of a post-bug invasion was great.

Pat Hatt said...

haha awesome indeed, the cat would be ready to stop those bugs, even if large he'd try to eat them

Stephanie Faris said...

Awesome job! Bugs...eww. I love the characterizations and the way you've set the scene.

Lisa said...

Interesting story. Like the narrative and visuals. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment on my blog. I think you said this was a draft copy? There were some tense changes that kind of threw me off but I'm sure you'll catch those during revisions. Good job at creating a world!

Donna Hole said...

Thanks Nancy

DG: The biggest bugs I ever saw were in Texas. The ground just crunches at night.

Denise: the attitude came first, then I had to drop in something for him to do. I'm sure I was swatting mosquitoes at the time though, lol.

Trisha: it was fun to write.

Midnight: thanks

Thanks Nila; I think this will be a novella. This pace is hard to sustain.

Sally: I don't think bugs are anybody's thing :)

Thanks Alex: the world building is the toughest part for me.

Pat: you know, my kitty was chewing on me this morning and I was thinking it'd be a great ending if The Cat saves the day!

Thanks Stephanie

Lisa: thanks for the feedback. Tense changes is one of my worst writing problems. Thanks for catching it.

.....dhole

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Donna .. putrid smell - yugh .. and sounds a rather nasty smelly state coming up ..
Now I'm itching .. and must go - I'm being hassled out .. cheers Hilary

Raelene Purtill said...

Donna, Sci Fi bug stories, love them. Starship Troopers, various episodes of Star Gate.
You have made it different though. Very atmospheric and lots of fun. Great work.

Anna Nordeman said...

June 3rd, 2014

Dear Donna,

Thanks for visiting my Failure-post.

(I am feeling a lot better now, but I still am swollen in parts of my face and recently discovered that my smile is not the same as it has been. Hope it's not permanent)

Great story here. You have a real knack for SciFi. I hope all goes well so that you can finish this and get it published.

Thanks for the encouraging words for my secret project. I am also toying with the idea of writing something in a SciFi-vein for the next WEP-challenge. Your mosquitos are inspiring! I like the mix of science and YA-fiction. Hope I'll find the time to do it. But first I have a paper for the university to do if I am to continue this course.

Take care and have a beautiful summer.

Best wishes,
Anna