River of Blood, my serial novel, is bursting with death. Go figure. Many passages of people facing that one thing with which we will all experience exquisite intimacy and yet none of us alive--doing stuff, writing, reading, listening, fearing, loving--have any first hand knowledge of this thing. It's fun to write about. And I am not want for teachers in how to do it...
Robert Stone from Damascus Gate:
'Such a dirty, fearsome place. Then she was swinging free and breath was all she cared about, all, it seemed she had ever cared about, the air of that filthy-smelling place, but there was none to be had. So with her breath all the thoughts of her devotion were expunged while the angry men stood watching her in the beam of their light and she wondered if she would ever ever die and then a deeper darkness, in its mercy, came.'
Yeah..., that passage got to me. I read it three times.
This next passage by Cormac McCarthy describes not the death of a character but the looming, heavy nature of things that have been and will be, all weighted with the inevitability of death. From The Road:
'He got up and walked out to the road. The black shape of it running from dark to dark. Then a distant low rumble. Not thunder. You could feel it under your feet. A sound without cognate and so without description. Something imponderable shifting out there in the dark. The earth itself contracting with the cold. It did not come again. What time of year? What age the child? He walked out into the road and stood. The silence. The salt drying from the earth. The mudstained shapes of flooded cities burned to the waterline. At a crossroads a ground set with dolmen stones where the spoken bones of oracles lay smoldering. No sound but the wind. What will you say? A living man spoke these lines? He sharpened a quill with his small pen knife to scribe these things in sloe or lampblack. At some reckonable and entabled moment? He is coming to steal my eyes. To seal my mouth with dirt.'
Thanks for reading.
Chrysalis, a growing collection of very short fiction.
Unless noted, all pics credited to Skitz O'Fuel.