Monday, December 28, 2009

Across The Ravine

SHORT STORY MONDAY

Across the Ravine

“A dead dog is symbolic of a tyrant condemned to death by his people," the captain said.

The others, pretending not to hear, continued about their business, sorting and packing their gear.

"I'm sensing a disconnect here. What's up?" The captain stood slouched with a shoulder against the rock wall. He took a drag on his cigarette, exhaled through his nose, the tension mounting in the muscles of his neck. "I'm quoting from The Dancer Upstairs. That was a line in the film."

Indifference. They continued to ignore him. He'd always spoken so foolishly. They never knew when to take him seriously.

"Take it or leave it," he shouted as they turned their backs to him and headed off down the steep sloping path that curled down to the dry river bed below.

The captain squatted on his haunches, staring across the ravine. They'd come so far. Getting here without losing a one seemed a miracle in itself. Now he was losing them all.

That's just something you don't do, he told himself. You should never, ever kill a dog for no reason. But the thing had come over him, and just like that it was over.

"Hey, wait up. Where you going? Wait up!" he shouted, his voice tapering off in a series of echoes, no one listening as he scrambled after them, the sun sinking in his heart, the whole desolate scene fading to black.

He'd hoped for something more when they arrived but the barrenness of the landscape and the colliding crustal plains had a strange power over the men, and over the captain as well. He'd wanted to prove something, but what? He'd wanted to lead, but where? He'd wanted to inspire, but how? Now, he wanted to abandon them, but why?

Maybe things would be different when they'd crossed the ravine.

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