Thursday, May 06, 2010

Twitter Story

Below are the 200 lines of the Twitter story -- a story I had meant to post at ten lines a day, but which just got to be a problem for me. I finally posted the last of it tonight.

It's not a great story, but it was an interesting experiment in writing (though not so a good of one in posting). Keeping each line relatively short was fun.

Lexin: A Story of the Lost

1. Golden illumination swept across the bleak empty expanse as Lexin and his six guards moved through a land of sand and desolation.
2. Fragile ground shifted beneath the steps of weary horses, sand tumbling down small dunes, soon lost again in the trackless land.
3. Sounds died in this barren world where relentless winds erased all sign of passage. Lexin saw nothing here of man; nothing of hope.
4. They had traveled three days into this wasteland, and already three times as many days away from home. They'd soon abandon him.
5. Lexin wanted to go home to the village and work the oat fields. He wanted his bed and to sleep away this nightmare.
6. He wanted to walk the paths of the Inis Valley, and work the plot of land at the forest's edge where morning shadows lingered.
7. He wanted the scent of damp earth and green life, and even to chase persistent rabbits and loud jays from the garden by the cottage.
8. More than any of that, he wanted to see Nila's smile as she left her parent's cottage and passed him by on her way to milk the goats.
9. Never again because at his grandmother's death, the last whispers of an old woman cursed him, though that hadn't been her intention.
10. Why did superstitious fools believed a senile, dying woman? Why believe she gave her grandson magical gifts she'd never possessed?

11. "I see it!" Harker shouted, startling the men and horses. He waved a dark tanned arm toward the distance. "Not far now!"
12. Lexin leaned forward shifting chains and squinted into the bright world of gold and white to see their destination.
13. A single pillar, out of place in a landscape that looked deceptively even, stood as though a sentinel against the bright world.
14. The others gave ragged cheers. That pillar represented a city long lost to the desert, a place myth said had been filled with magic.
15. Fabled Darisan, eons dead, the desert burying the hated magic and all the mages at the will of the Gods. None had survived.
16. Lexin watched their destination as the horses plodded forward and the weary men gave thanks to the gods. They did not speak to him.
17. The day quickly grew unbearably hot -- far worse than the last three days since they reached the edge of the endless desert.
18. His companions grew silent. The horses dropped their heads, steps slower and unsteady. He looked back to see the mules doing better.
19. Water there, but none for him. They'd given him little since the desert edge and there would be none when they abandoned him.
20. Supplies were scant and he feared they would all die before they reached the edge of the desert again. Should he care?

21. He shouldn't -- but he did. They did as Lord Fell ordered them to do, and he knew, in his heart, he would have done the same.
22. The self-realization made him all the more bitter. He could not curse these men for what they did; Lord Fell would have done worse.
23. Normally they would have rested during the worst heat of the day, but they didn't stop this time. He feared the horses would die.
24. Feared to find them trapped with him. Why should he care? Didn't they deserve to die here after what they'd done to him?
25. No. No more than he did. So he bowed his head and hoped the horses, and the men, did well. He would not let this change him.
26. He had never wished ill on anyone. He would not now. His honor was all they left him.
27. Later....
28. A shadow fell across his face. Lexin opened his eyes, surprised to find night had come -- but no, not night after all.
29. They had reached the pillar at last, the sand-worn column rising higher than any giant, stretching straight into the sky.
30. The shadow fell, straight as any sundial. He'd be able to tell the hour of his death, he supposed.

31. They stopped, finally, at the base of the pillar. A huge thing -- so wide around that his little cottage could have fit within it.
32. Sand had piled up higher than the horses at the base and moved in chaotic swirls as they passed. The others stopped well back.
33. "Off the horse, Lexin," Harker said, kicking at his leg. The horse shied. "You reached your new home."
34. He slid down without comment. He hadn't spoken to them in days and if they expected him to beg now, they were disappointed.
35. He looked up and they looked away - his last contact with any human. It shamed them; he could see it in their averted eyes.
36. "Here's the supplies we brought you. We ain't touched it." Harker dropped a bag into the sand. "Let's go."
37. "No -- unhook the chains!" Lexin started forward, but tripped and fell into the sand. When he looked up, they were riding away.
38. "Bastards." The word sounded too calm, too accepting. He knew he would die here in the shadow of this ancient column.
39. The chains hardly mattered. They'd already worn sores into his wrists and ankles, sand brushing past his feet, stinging as it went.
40. He turned from those riding away -- going home -- and soon the chain dragging through the sand was all he could hear.

41. Lexin stared out into the sands, half hoping to go blind from the light. He tired of it and finally settled in the shade of the column.
42. He could walk away into the desert and die there. Lexin turned his head and looked elsewhere. Sand and sand and sand.
43. Why should he work harder to die? Stay here. Sit in the shade. Close his eyes and wait. Move with the shadow.
44. Wait.
45. He had moved a few times, staying in the shadows, before he found the bag Harker had thrown into the sand.
46. He pulled it up and open out of curiosity. Bread -- dry as the sand around him. Dried fruit. No water, of course.
47. Lexin slowly nibbled on a piece of dried apple. The sweet and tart flavor filled his mouth like ambrosia.
48. It helped. He ate another and then wondered if he shouldn't ration them instead. Why? So he could survive longer?
49. He ate another.
50. The day passed slowly, the first chill of night coming with a soft breeze that touched his face with a welcome caress.

51. Cool, seductive and promising release from the heat of the day -- he knew the night would be frigid, but he welcomed it anyway.
52. Die quickly? If he had a weapon, he would have shed his own blood. The chains? Could he somehow wrap them around his neck?
53. He thought about it for awhile, though he didn't actually move to try. Lexin decided he would eat the food first.
54. Why let it go to waste? He ate a little. Stared at the growing night. Leaned back and slept, too exhausted to care about anything.
55. Insanity began in those dark moments. He heard whispers of words he didn't understand and felt warmth envelop him against the cold.
56. He slept well, feeling protected and safe in ways that his deeper thoughts rebelled against. Dying, he thought. That didn't seem so bad.
57. Somewhere in the darkness night, he thought a woman sang a soft song he remembered from his mother before she died.
58. He had forgotten it and the bittersweet memory nearly made him weep when nothing else could have.
59. Abandoned, he thought, as he had the night she died. He didn't want to feel like a child. He did not want to feel like *that* child.
60. He tried to banish the memory, to awake and embrace the deadly cold and emptiness of the night. The dream would not let go.

61. The song stayed through the night, a whisper of sound, a brush of warmth--even if only of something remembered.
62. Then the sun came again. Lexin could feel it brush against his skin, bright against his closed eyelids.
63. "I brought you a gift."
64. Lexin came awake with a heart pounding shock. The voice had been too real. He had felt the breath against his ear.
65. Alone, of course. He felt oddly refreshed after his long sleep. Perhaps that came from finally reaching the end of the journey.
66. No matter if he died here. In some ways, his future-or lack of it-had become unimportant. His past meant nothing. Now was all he had.
67. He stood and stretched, carefully dusting sand from his clothing and arms, as though that would matter to anyone.
68. He brushed down his hair, wished-oddly-for a razor and watched the sunrise as he walked around his column.
69. His, as though he owned it. And why not? They'd given it to him, hadn't they, when the bastards left him here to die.
70. So, his place, his column, and all his world. The sun, barely a hand's breadth above the horizon, glared off the golden sand.

71. He could be rich with so much gold. He could rule his world. With a bitter laugh, he settled into the shadow again.
72. The pack sat within reach. He pulled it closer thinking it felt heavier today, a sign of his growing weakness.
73. Lexin brushed the sand from the pack and pulled it open. He must not have eaten much the night before, since it seemed far too full.
74. He pulled out some fruit. How had he missed the bread, cheese and meat? This was far better than he had expected from the group.
75. How odd. It seemed fresh, too - no doubt because it had been sealed so tight in the bag. At least he wouldn't starve for awhile.
76. He would survive long enough to come to terms with dying, he supposed. The thought did not send him into rage this time.
77. Here, alone, he could no longer believe the others would come to their senses. No choices left except for acceptance.
78. He found it easy to accept the idea of dying in this place where he could not see a single strand of green grass.
79. He thought the slight undulating dunes around him might hide more of a lost city, but it was already dead and buried.
80. No reason to go look there. Nothing to find that would make these last days of his existence any different or better.

81. He packed away the food, mostly out of habit and partly just to have something to do. Carefully fold the cloth, carefully seal the bag.
82. Brush the sand away, as though any of it mattered now. He could not even find the energy to care.
83. Lethargy and the desert sun robbed him of his will and his emotions. It suited such an empty place.
84. He closed his eyes, wondering if he should want to dream of home. Should he long for green things? For green and hope?
85. Emptiness invaded his dreams, though. He found nothing there to give him hope, and accepted even that without emotion.
86. Give up. Accept. There was nothing else.
87. "There is more than you think," a voice whispered at his ear.
88. He came awake with a start, his heart thumping, and the sun bright in his face. He thought he saw a shadow move.
89. Startled, Lexin scrambled to his feet, tripped on the chain, and went down again. He thought he footsteps in sand behind him.
90. Going crazy, he thought as he knelt there in the sand. Going crazy and alone and this is the way my life will end.

91. They hadn't left him any blades. He couldn't even take an easy way out. Sit in the sun and let it kill him?
92. That sounded like a long, slow painful death, while the moisture leached out of him. Die more slowly of starvation?
93. He stared at the sand under his hands. His fingers clinched, and the sand seeped through them. Nothing to hold on to.
94. He hadn't wept. He wouldn't now. Fear tried to crawl up through his chest and out his mouth in a scream of despair.
95. He fought it back, swallowed the sound -- though he didn't know why. No one to hear. No one to prove himself to.
96. But he could not let go. He wanted to hold on to even the fear, because if he lost it, he knew he had nothing left.
97. The bag. He crawled over to the bag and looked inside. Food. He thought he had eaten some of it.
98. The bag held another odd, unwelcome surprise. There, beneath a loaf of bread, he found an old leather bound book.
99. He knew it. His grandmother's journal: old, worn and stained by her fingers. He'd watched her write in it every day he saw her.
100. He'd even asked, when he had been young and cared, what she said in those elegant sweeps of ink on paper.

101. "Visions of the world, whispers of magic. Knowledge that we dare not lose, and yet slips away with each breath. We know so little."
102. Poetic words. They had intrigued him, and drawn him closer. He hadn't realized the oddity of a woman writing.
103. She had been an eccentric and she made him learn to read -- and he learned because it was easier than saying no to her.
104. The villages had called her crazy. They shunned her and her talk of magic. No one listened to her proclamations
105. So why did they at the end? Why was he paying for the last rant of a woman no one believed until she died.
106. He shivered at the thought. Had something happened? What could she have done that set all the village against him?
107. He held the journal, his fingers resting against the stains that marked her life. Her world now existed only within the covers.
108. Worn leather, the edges of yellow pages, a hint of ... sage, he thought. She had used it often in cooking, fresh from the garden.
109. He hesitated. She would not let him read it, there in her little cottage. Now, holding it in his hands, he remembered her voice.
110. And the look -- dark grey eyes that had always seemed to hold the promise of a storm about to break loose.

111. "Words can say truths you do not want to know. You are not ready. You'll know when to open the book."
112. She'd turned quickly away, but he thought he had seen -- worry in her eyes. Fear. And compassion.
113. The moment had remained starkly vivid in his mind for all these years, called back in total clarity whenever he saw the journal.
114. Like now.
115. He sat back on the sand and looked out at the world: shadows across him, golden sand everywhere else. Empty. Alone.
116. The book held words, a link -- however tenuous -- with another being. Yes, he was ready for whatever truths she could tell him.
117. He opened the cover ... a whisper of pages moving in the still air. The sound brought a memory of the past.
118. Lexin closed his eyes, vividly remembering his grandmother sitting at the table by the window, the journal before her.
119. How the ink jar, catching the evening light, sent odd colored rainbow through the room. The feathered quill paused over the paper...
120. He looked down at the first page, his heart giving a dull thump of fear at the words of the woman who had raised him.

121. Grandmother, whom he had loved, and who had condemned him to this slow, lonely death.
122. For a moment he stared at the elegant sweep of marks and ran his finger over the old ink, the curve up and down, up and down.
123. He felt like a child again, unable to fathom the mystery of how the marks meant something.
124. The lines changed to words marching across the page, even as the movement of her hand across the pages.
125. He heard her voice, whispering in his head. Soft words. Grandmama had never yelled.
126. "We are not given choices in what we are. Some are chosen to stay and remember, and hold the magic for the others."
127. His hands trembled. The words felt real, powerful -- and he feared that if he kept reading, they would change him.
128. He almost closed the book and accepted the narrowness of his world and the inevitableness of his death.
129. Shadow, sand and book. He opened the pages and read.
130. We are not given choices in what we are....

131. Lexin read. He ate a little cheese. He ate an apple. There was more apples and cheese in the bag.
132. He knew, now, that there always would be.
133. That night he rested better, leaning against the obelisk, his eyes going closed as he watched the yellow moon rise.
134. He slept with the whisper of her voice, the memory of the book's words, in his head. He could not drive them away.
135. Like a floodgate opened to all the things she had never said to him in life -- stories of power and magic.
136. Impossible things -- tales to fill an empty life. Was that her life, alone in the village with a young boy to raise?
137. Scribbling away at the table, imagining something other than the life of Crazy Mary darning other people's clothing.
138. Or was it his new life here, cast aside in the wasteland, with only the memory of her voice to fill his head?
139. She spoke through the journal, and the words would not give him rest
140. Magic can make a wasteland bloom or destroy a city. The ancients were powerful, but they were not always wise.

141. He read of battles fought between magical people, tearing power from the land, leaving ruin and death.
142. And a civilization lost, beauty and knowledge lost beyond recovery.
143. Destruction of the world they knew, and the sands of death burying everything while the few survivors scattered.
144. Those few, lost among the magic-less humans, afraid to admit what they were until even they forgot.
145. The lost, some never to return to the magical paradise where they belonged --
146. Lexin shut the book then, feeling an odd chill despite the hot sun. He started at bright sand, thinking it would blind him.
147. He had moved with the shadow, marking time in a circle around the obelisk as he read: Indentations to mark the passage of time.
148. And pages turned, marking the days of grandmama's life. Why hadn't she told him these tales? He would have loved such stories as a child.
149. It felt like betrayal again. Lexin shook the book as though it were something alive and then threw it out into the sand.
150. It laid there, the pages fluttering like the wings of a broken bird. He shuddered, turned away --

151. No breeze.
152. He looked back, but the pages still moved, a soft rustling of sound where only the slightest whisper of shifting sand intruded.
153. He wanted --
154. The magic to be real? It couldn't be. He wasn't a child to believe such tales, and wish for something impossible.
155. The book still moved. Fresh food appeared in the bag. And what had happened when Grandmama died that they believed her?
156. He stood and stepped into the light, walking across the heated sand with the feel of fire beneath him.
157. It burnt away his fears, his anger and his hope. He held the book in both hands, thinking it might fly away if he let go.
158. A child's thought, returned when he least wanted it. Books did not fly. Food did not appear in magic bags.
159. He sat down in the shadow of the obelisk. The book opened to the last page he had read. He pulled an apple from the bag.
160. He read of magic: places lost and people forgotten. Lexin slept well that night, and didn't dream of home and his own lost world.

161. He awoke restless and angered again at his fate, at the desert, and at the chains that still bound him like an animal.
162. He circled the obelisk, running his trembling fingers over the worn surface, looking at designs -- were they words he could not read?
163. Another thing lost to him. Anger surged, overwhelming thought. He stumbled away from the shadows and out into the sunlight.
164. Outward, outward -- no need to go back. Onward to certain death. Why prolong it with the book and the bag?
165. Walked and walked until there was only sand around him and the burning sun. No paths to follow here. Nowhere to go.
166. The metal of the chains grew hot enough to burn his skin. His mouth dried and he breathed in fire. He walked.
167. And at night fall he lifted his head and saw....
168. The obelisk before him. At first he thought it must be another, but he could see the bag and the book, there in the shadow.
169. Walked in a circle -- he could even see how his footsteps tended toward the right from the start. He laughed -- a madman's sound.
170. So thirsty. He stumbled to the bag and wondered if he would find anything that would help.

171. He reached in and pulled out a canteen. His hands trembled as he opened it and sipped -- water, still cool from some distant spring.
172. "I don't know what to do. I don't understand," he whispered, as though he feared someone would hear.
173. The book flapped open, pages turning again. There would be the only answers he would ever have.
174. Lexin picked up the book and let it fall open to whatever page it wanted. He had not read these words.
175. They startled him and sent a shiver through him so that he could not hold the book still to read beyond the first line.
176. Calm, calm. He looked back at the page and took a breath, willing himself to read beyond the first line.
177. Lexin, I'm sorry. I cannot leave you to your peaceful life, to live and die tilling the land and marry some local girl.
178. I tried to ignore the calling. I said I would teach you later. I promised myself more time than the Gods gave me.
179. Now ill and old, I must do something difficult knowing it will cause you pain. I have little time left. But I have this book.
180. I will choose my time of death. I will have witnesses and tell them what must be done. I will place you in their hands.

181. They will believe, Lexin. I will make them believe in magic, at least for as long as it takes to get you to the obelisk.
182. Magic lingers there, where humans have not buried it beneath their generations of disbelief.
183. This book will give you guidance. I put as much of myself into it as I could. The bag holds the key to what you need.
184. You alone hold the magic to make it work, Lexin. You alone can find the path away from this place.
185. Forgive me for this harsh change -- but a better world is out there for you. All you need do is believe in the book, the bag...and me.
186. He sat the book down in the sand and picked up the bag. A normal bag, leather and worn and unpretentious.
187. It had already saved his life with food and drink. Either he had pulled such things from inside or else none of it was real.
188. If it wasn't real...did it matter if he believed in the magic of the bag? Perhaps he lay dying of the heat and starvation.
189. But if he believed, then the bag held the key to what he needed. He sat it on the ground and reached inside.
190. And found the key that unlocked the chains, freeing himself from the last bond tying him to the others.

191. Yes, he believed as he dropped the chains. He picked up the book again so that grandmama could speak to him once more.
192. There is more to the world than what mere humans can sense. We blind ourselves and deny our heritage to live among them.
193. Open your eyes, Lexin, and no longer be one of the lost. Find the paths no human can see and follow one. See what magic awaits you.
194. He picked up the bag and slipped it up over his shoulder and held his grandmother's journal in his right hand.
195. He stepped out of the shadow and into the sunlight again -- but the world had changed. Rainbow colors played across the land.
196. The lines danced across the sand, moving like an unseen ocean. Some braided together and formed wide paths across the golden sand.
197. He followed a path of green and blue, stepping away from the obelisk and away from humanity.
198. It didn't matter where the path lead. It didn't matter if it was real. He could walk away from here.
199. And he might find somewhere magical at the end of the journey.
200. The End