Post

They were all stunned, she was really gone.

Mike sat slumped and glassy eyed. He was bleeding from a gash on his arm. The blood bubbled up from the wound and dribbled down his body in spurts. He did not bother to try to staunch the flow.

Charlie raged and screamed and frothed. He paced over the cracked pavement. Those who had rushed over to help the bloodied men stood back. They refused to meet his gaze.

Chesterfield just stood there. He was numb. Charlie shoved him and got no response. He shoved him again.

Charlie screamed, “You bastard! You god damned coward!”

Chesterfield swallowed and opened his mouth to speak. He found that he couldn’t. Charlie punched him in the mouth.

He stood over the older man and said in a slow shaking voice, “You just couldn’t let her go. You just couldn’t pull the trigger. You should have given me the gun. You let them take her.”

Chesterfield tasted blood but did not raise his hand to feel the split in his lip. Charlie walked away and collapsed at his brother’s feet and began to cry. He clawed at the pavement and wept.

There was no pain for Chesterfield. It would come, but only later. It was the thunderclap to the lightning. It would come.

It would come.

——

The four of them had sat around a fire. They were laughing. Someone had found a bag of marshmallows and they were roasting them on sticks. A sweet smell of summer flowers, warm molasses, and cedar was in the thin wisps of smoke rising from the hearth.

Charlie frowned at the blackened lump of his first marshmallow. His brother sat closer to the light with a canvas bag in his lap. Danni lay on the ground with her eyes closed but not asleep. Chesterfield watched the sun as it slid behind the control tower.

The fire crackled as someone threw on more wood.

Chesterfield watched Mike as he shuffled through a thick stack of wrinkled envelopes, “Why the hell do you do it?”

Mike didn’t look up, “Do what?”

“Read other people’s mail.”

Mike glanced up from the mail sack, “They don’t mind. I asked.”

“Don’t you feel like some kind of grave robber?”

Charlie chuckled, ripped a handful of weeds from the blacktop and threw it into the fire. It dimmed as a plume of smoke rose up and flew away to the east.

Mike picked an envelope at random and ripped it open, “No, not at all. I like the mail, always have. I don’t know, somehow it makes me feel…”

“Normal,” Charlie finished.

“Yeah, even the bills.”

Danni rolled over and muttered, “You’re crazy, Mike. I hate bills. Always will. Don’t matter if there’s no one left to collect.”

The brothers fell asleep under the stars. The fire died down to coals. Chesterfield couldn’t sleep.

He looked to the other side of the fire and whispered, “Meehan, you still awake?”

“Yeah, I’m always awake.”

Chesterfield nudged an ember back into the fire with his boot.

“Eyes open,” Danni whispered back again.

Chesterfield closed his eyes, “What happened to you?”

“Same as everybody else.”

He shook his head, “Between you, me, and the fire, what happened to you?”

Danni sat up and looked at him across the fire, “I watched my husband die, and I didn’t do a thing to stop it.”

She got to her feet, “I could have. I could have done something. They took him, Frank. I let them.”

“You were scared. Everyone was scared.”

Danni stared at him, “Could you have stood there and done nothing if it was your wife, Frank?”

Chesterfield stared into the fire for a long time, “No.”

When he looked up Danni was sleeping, her back was turned from him and she was facing the night.

——

It would come, Chesterfield told himself. He was alone. He didn’t know where anyone else was. His jaw ached. He looked down and found resting at his feet a mud encrusted canvas mail sack. Chesterfield pulled out a crumpled lavender envelope and cracked the seal.

9 Responses to “Post”


  • I have finally made it in without a parental control block stopping me at all, WHOOO!

    Ill try to get some drafts up over the break.

    Sorry about the post in your comments section k, but I figured i’d save some space and not make a new post.

    Once Again, WHOOO IM IN!!!!

  • Ben: You’re wierd :) Also, looking forward to your stories.

    K: The first time I read it I was pretty confused. Although, that may be because I’m extremely tired. It’s one of those stories where you go back and read then say “Ohhh, I get it, that’s cool!”

    Has a very mysterious feel to it. Good job.

  • Ben, I hope you’re not bypassing anything without your parents’ permission. I don’t want you getting in trouble.

    Now let me yell at you for cross-posting. Your first post up here, and… Anyway, welcome home.

    Rob, onto your story. I am missing two things here. It’s great to see what caused Charlie Danton to go solo and caused that squad to blow up. It shines a whole bunch of light on Gen 4:9, and I like how rich you are making your characters. We can really feel empathy for them all. We knew this story was coming one day, but I never wanted to read it.

    As I said, there are two problems. Maybe you can explain them, or maybe you can revise them. Danton’s line “You let them take her” seems at odds with “When he looked up she was gone.” Chesterfield doesn’t seem responsible or even aware of Danni’s disappearance.

    Second, while Charlie yells at and punches Chesterfield for not mercy-killing (Lennie-ing? Smalling? We need a designated verb for ‘delivering the coup-de-grace’) Danni, he does not do the same thing for his brother Mark–if he had, there would be no Gen 4:9.

    I love the sense of immersion I get when reading your stories, but with this one, I’m left wondering what I missed. Did you slide something in on me?

  • The middle segment is a prior event that is supposed to have occurred even before things went FUBAR. While the group was still at peace.

    The actual event that blows this up doesn’t matter. The event where they lose Danni and Mike is insignificant. Its the aftermath that is important.

    Its good that you brought up the fact that Charlie is angry at Frank but he doesn’t do the same for his brother.

    That’s basically the core of the story. Its easy to say you would do it, but to actually put a gun to a friend or family member’s head is quite another. I also tried to show this with the conversation at the fire, Frank says that he would have done something if it were someone he cared about, but when it comes down to it, he can’t.

  • I had that all and I liked the setup and structure. I’m with you on everything except ‘losing Danni’ being insignificant. I got that Mike had suffered a mortal wound and liked the understated way you handled it.

    But Danni is different. Having Chesterfield look up and she was gone is just too understated. It implies that she left on her own and doesn’t justify Charlie’s rage. Chesterfield doesn’t come across as guilty. They were in the middle of a conversation, and they were both lying down. If he looked up, he’d see nothing but stars.

    I get that Charlie is torn up by Mike’s loss, but Gen 4:9 implied the whole group really loved Danni. The first section and the end of the second feel like they are really out of balance with one another.

  • Danni didn’t just disappear. I already changed that.

    The campfire was supposed to happen before the lose Mike and Danni. You don’t actually get to see them get attacked because its just gratuitous. The aftermath, the confusion and the anger are the important parts.

    The only info on the fight comes from dialog after the fact. Mike is in real bad shape. Danni was taken by Zack and Chesterfield didn’t take the shot. And Charlie is pissed.

    Maybe it needs some work to have that all conveyed but I want to keep the setup the way it is. I don’t want to show the “action.”

  • The once sentence you added at the end of section 2 makes all the difference to my understanding of the story.

    I know and appreciate the fact that your story is complex and your characters are complex. You’re weaving a web, not drawing a line. That’s good and it’s hard to pull off. People who have trouble understanding this story should be prompted to read Brews and Gen 4:9 before getting lost.

    It’s rare to have cross-short story allusions, but here’s one that might help clarify: You allude to this story in Gen 4:9 when you say “Frank Chesterfield has his own problems to deal with.” (In quotes, but paraphrased. Run with me.) Chesterfield doesn’t really reply. But he’s been punched in the face and abandoned in an area under attack by Z’s. I know that Gen 4:9 takes place after several returns by Charlie to the Zone and Chesterfield tends to be the strong, silent type, but wouldn’t it nicely reinforce your theme of the struggle to kill your own loved ones–something that goes back to The Walk, one of the first stories on the site–by having Chesterfield make a comment to that effect? It’s one line of dialog, and having it would really bring your themes a bit more clearly into focus.

    Still, again, the structure of the story was well-designed, unique and effective. I really like what you’re doing here and look forward to seeing where they go next.

  • Rob, I’ve put this up to category 1, edited, but should “men” in line five be “man”?

  • No, men is what it should read. I have a feeling that they are all pretty bloodied after an extended beat down on a large group of Zs.

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