Tuesday, September 07, 2010


[Our assignment for Acting today was to write a story based on two words we were given. My words were "road" and "bruise." I don't particularly like this story, but for the Gentle Reader it may entertainingly waste a few minutes.]

When the girl lay down on the road, all she could see were the stars. She could not see the burned, charred, black road around her, the piles of bodies, the skeletons of cars and trucks, the hulks of tanks. She could not see the road winding on and on, bleakly across a bleak world, starting nowhere and ending nowhere. Looking at the stars she could imagine she was dead, that she had finally come to peace, that she lay in a box in the earth and that the stars were her only friends. We are all made of stardust, she had been told, and she had laughed.

She had been brilliant, once. The smartest ten-year-old on the face of the earth; possibly the smartest ten-year-old who ever lived. They sent her up in the rocket ship, the one that would reach Mars, the one that would guarantee humanity’s survival when the destruction unleashed by the last war was complete. Her words, beamed from the spaceship to the ears of all humanity, just as the ship broke earth’s orbit, had become famous. People loved them and quoted them. She always thought that they did this because they made her sound like a little girl, because they made her sound human, rather than like the divine being most people imagined her to be.

“It looks… like a bruise. We’ve made the world look like a giant bruise. This was never what man was supposed to be.”

And in the six years it took them to establish the Martian colony, in the years it took her to turn from a warm, brilliant, adorable little girl to a cold, manipulative, power-hungry woman, her words had apparently touched off a war, one even worse than the previous war, one in which humanity unleashed its most horrible weapons and, finally, destroyed itself.

The Martian crew managed to find the survivors, the last several hundred humans locked deep underground. They were taken onboard the spaceship; they told the story of earth’s final six years. They blamed the girl, and rightly so. It did not take long to make the decision; and the decision was unanimous. They exiled her. They set her on the ring, the highway that man had built to encircle the earth, the scene of the worst and most brutal battles of man’s final war. They ordered her to walk it until the end of her days, to walk it until she, the last remaining human, was gone. The captain delivered the sentence; the captain knew she would never have the strength to take her own life.

Staring up at the stars, the girl heard a noise behind her. She jerked upright. The noises couldn’t be coincidence; they had been following her all day. Either someone was out there, stalking her, or she was going insane. Either way, perhaps her death would come soon.

A figure moved in the darkness. Her instincts, unwanted, flared up; she leapt and grabbed the figure and brought it down, smashing its face into the road, her hands flying and pummeling by instinct and nothing else. When the figure stopped moving, she rolled it over, perched above on the edge of the road. The sea below heaved incontinently. Her stalker was a boy, of about her own age. The boy was breathing raggedly.

“Who are you?” the girl hissed.

“You’ve… you’ve killed me…”

“Who are you?”

“I… fought against… your exile. When you left… I followed you. I lost you for a while… but now I’ve found you again.”

“Why? Why do you care? I’ve destroyed all of humanity. Everyone knows it.”

“And yet… I love you…”

“Love me? You don’t know me.”

“I grew up with you. I… always saw your face on TV.” The boy was growing more animated, starting to recover himself. He was bleeding from several places, but he ignored this. “No one ever loved you. They admired you, they feared you. But I loved…” he stopped, and began to cough. The fit prolonged itself, and he turned his head aside and spat blood. He groaned and lay his head back down with a clunk on the road.

The girl thought she had cried all of her tears away, but now she began to weep. She bent down and kissed the boy firmly on the mouth. He kissed her back. His arms closed around her and with the last of his strength he used his body to toss her, backward, over the edge of the road. He rolled over and watched her plunge toward the sea. Then he lunged after her.

For a moment the two bodies hung in midair, becoming smaller and smaller until they were specks indistinguishable from the whitecaps of the roiling sea below. Then they were swallowed up. The sea roared on, like a great bruise blotting the face of the earth.

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