I planned to release the short story at the end of the month but I’m sat here in the cafe thinking about my next post and decided lets just release it now! I spent a few hours last night finalising some paragraphs and pieces that I have been re writing and re writing. It won’t make any difference whether I post it now or in a few days and I still hope some people find the time to read and help me with some feedback for my future writing. In a way its a blessing I finished it earlier with the next few days being so hectic for me ie. – coming back home, leaving the temple, seeing old friends, sorting out some work…. busy busy!
With absolute pleasure please find below my first officially released short story
(Do not reproduce or use without my consent, however please feel free to contact me if you wish to do so) –
‘Dawn’ – Scott Durham
Just one moment before dawn is the perfect time to watch the tail of night wisp away into the frost covered mountainside. Isolated from the restless civilised world. One solitary bird of pray casts it silhouette as it carousels above the lakes waters. Floating harmoniously, slower than the clouds themselves. It watches intently as the velvet sky drains into the atmosphere and the light can be seen cutting over the mountain ridge breathing new life into the world below. From the ground you can see the great bird gliding between the tops of towering pine trees casting comforting shadows across the valley. Melting icicles hang from each branch as the cold slowly releases its grip on the tree. Melting from the intense glare of the sun, the ice drops like small missiles into the soft untouched snow below. The first glimpse of sunlight penetrates the frosty morning haze and illuminates the water clear as a freshly cut diamond. The small schools of fish dance intricate choreographed movements practiced an infinite amount of times whilst the bed of the lake awakes with life.
From the outside room 12 looked no different to the other rooms. The torn curtains are drawn to prevent what light they can illuminating the dull dust filled room. The stale smell of sweat and puke is thick enough to taste, leaving more than a fine coat across your tongue. Fresh air hasn’t been exchanged for days as the walls begin to absorb the long standing aroma. Numerous hand marks are seen painted across the already unpolished smashed bedroom mirror with an unrecognisable substance, the ingrained cracks almost unnoticeable beneath the dirt. The cheap wooden frame hangs at an angle barely clinging to the nail wedged into the thin plasterboard wall. Beneath the mirror towers a pile of empty glass bottles. The remnants of cheap whiskey, dark rum, and an assortment of wine bottle are mostly empty and scattered in hundreds of pieces from being thrown against the wall. Across the upturned mattress the sheets are soaked deep and sat heaped in a tangled mess of pillows and duvets, as if two adulterated lovers caught red handed flee the scene. What little light comes around the corner from the exposed front window casts a hand shaped shadow from the open doorway left ajar to the en suite bathroom.
He doesn’t feel a thing through the thickness of his sheep skin coat, neither hot or cold the fresh morning breeze simply washes over the outside and carries on unperturbed. The snow melts and rolls down the mountain mellifluously into the lake, its path carved from a thousand years of melting waters. Seldom had he experienced such a natural silence in all his life, only the waking flora and fauna created a combined sound that was pure and trusting. Following the slightly visible trail surrounding the lake a young faun in the distance runs startled across the path and appears to fly as it clears the brush to either side, taking refuge in the forests dense cover. As the trail continues it begins to ascend toward the peak of the mountain. The forest whispers promises of serenity and calm within as he navigates a path between the tightly packed trees, the surrounding smell of pine and vegetation grows stronger as the sun cuts through the few spaces ahead. Glancing across the lake as he ascended, he was able to look down with a new perspective, suddenly the vast expanse of the valley was fully appreciable. Pockets of colours scattered and broken the landscape into fragments, sharp rocky outcrops, groups of different trees, lush open grassland, and clear lakes as far as the eye could see. This was a hidden paradise.
“911 state your emergency”
“Please please oh god”
“Hello mam please state your emergency”
“Its.. Its.. my husband.. he.. I think he”
“Mam are you safe? Can you give me an address?”
“We.. we had a big argument and he was shouting about that stupid bitch again.. fuck FUCK..”
“I just know hes done something STUPID… why am I such an idiot”
“Where is your husband? This question is very important mam is anybody in danger or hurt?”
“He’s not at home.. he.. he is on a business trip… he told me he wouldn’t do anything for either one of us anymore… oh not again.. not again”
“We have your cellphone location and are dispatching a police unit to you immediately, we will do everything we can to help but you need to tell me where you husband is? Is he in danger?”
“He said something stupid about flying but.. his stupid fucking car.. he’s not safe.. no not safe.. he’s staying at a motel just out of town on route to.. Motel.. what was it fucking called… Motel 42… Yes that’s it Motel 42!“
“Okay, is he armed?… We are sending paramedics immediately and a squad car please stay on the line”
The peak of the now snow free mountain was a short distance ahead, the very top was just out of view as thick milky clouds started rolling over from behind. Once out of the comfort of the thicket of trees the sharp wind carried an icy chill which now pierced his once cosy jacket, wind speed was increasing and started to whistle through the pine needles he once embraced an seemingly endless peace. A flurry of small birds came hurtling past him at great speed and dissipated without a trace into the shrubbery. Startled from the outburst he paid no attention to the path below but focused on maintaining his balance. He had come too far to go back now and was determined with an insatiable desire, what was above the forming clouds? Would he see the endless sky above, would peace find him yet again, could he finally rest? Oblivious to the weather below, the once breath taking paradise was becoming restless as clouds obscured the view to the lake and any sound or sight of animals was no where to be found. He was now uncomfortably cold, his hands and toes were losing feeling and becoming numb from the wind as he climbed the final stretch of rocky outcrops. Still he refused to go back, he was done going back, today he went forward. The many trees no longer radiated with a bright green hue and shades of auburn, they shrank away from the mountain absorbing its sullen dark grey appearance. The forest knows the mountain. It knows where it goes.
The dashboard clock ticks over to 7am as the ambulance brakes suddenly outside the motel office. The thick storm clouds are almost indistinguishable as the bleak grey sky above forms one tangled grey-scale mosaic. The wailing siren reverberates through the motel shaking the thin glass windows and flooding the rooms with noise, many tired disgruntled faces appear through the gaps in the drawn curtains unhappy with the barrage of sound. One of the paramedics dives out of the passenger side. The door slams shut behind as the ambulance driver reverses swiftly into an open space facing the line of red numbered doors. The driver throws open the back doors, pulling two emergency medical bags stacked with equipment. A squad car pulls sharply up the driveway and brakes suddenly blocking the entrance to the motel. Watching the computer screens clear reflection in the office clerks large rounded glasses the paramedics leg moves restlessly against the desk, nervously the office clerk fumbles with sweaty palms across the old keyboard searching for one particular room. After what felt like an eternity the paramedic gets his answer…“He-here room 12‘s keys” the clerk croaks, his throat dry.
Confused yet determined the prospect of turning back now was out of the question. The once beautiful baby blue skies were being entirely consumed by thick charcoal coloured clouds. Thunder begins to roar shaking the very core of the mountain, as if Odin himself had struck the earth with a thousand year fury. Loose rocks plummet down either side of the thinning mountain ridge beneath his shoes as cliff edges can be heard crumbling away somewhere beyond in the abyss. Unsure whether it was his nerves or an overwhelming sense of vertigo a deep churning forced its way up. The unmistakable taste of bile burned like acid on his throat. Fumbling with numb calloused hands he clutched at whatever he could reaching blindly and continuing to climb what must of surely been the last few meters. He couldn’t feel anything any more, the cold had long settled deep into his bones. With no sense of time he knew it was irrelevant now. The mountain needed no time. He simply needed to climb. Inconceivable to a humans mind the mountain fills the void that is time itself. A frighteningly close burst of lightning cuts through the clouds illuminating the jagged peak. The silhouette of a great bird flashes before his eyes perched on at the very top of the mountain, sitting peacefully as if unaffected by the storms rage. He knew that once at the peak, much like the great free bird, all of his troubles would be over.
Outside room 12 the two paramedics and two police officers stood prepared for a few short seconds after knocking before putting the key into the door. The oldest of two officers took the lead and gestured for the others to follow on his command. “POLICE, IS ANYONE IN THERE!?.. I REPEAT… THIS IS THE POLICE IS ANYONE IN THERE.. THIS IS YOUR LAST WARNING!?” The only sound he heard was the blood rushing through his ears as he listened for the slightest movement or breath behind the door. Nothing. Not knowing the potential threat, a small hand signal gestures to the door and in one swift rehearsed movement the door blasts open and both officers enter guns held firmly in front. The paramedics follow swiftly behind when the stale warm air hits them hard in the face stealing the air from their lungs as it escapes the motel room. First into the room the police scan quickly its contents. A familiar sight they are unaffected by the tragic state of the room. Noticing quickly the outline of a pale open hand reaching out of the dark bathroom the officers run with bounding footsteps like thunder. Confirming the room safe the officers clear the room. One paramedic rushes forward into the darkness to assess the situation as the other runs out to prepare the ambulance.
Reaching for the light switch the paramedic finds no light bulb and goes to work with what little light he has coming from outside. The body is ice cold as it spreads across the tiled floor. Male. Appears in his forties. Unresponsive. The paramedic shines his flashlight into his eyes illuminating the pupils to check for any reaction. Coated with sweat his head shines from the reflection of light. His pupils are transfixed forward completely dilated. Bloodshot vessels spill around the iris with large blotches of blood filling the corners of his eyes. He is wearing a dirty buttoned blue shirt half torn with the sleeves rolled up. The suit trousers are a dark grey matching the scuffed black leather shoes. The smell of alcohol on his breathe is impossible to ignore as the paramedic checks his pulse. As he removes his hands to assess for wounds the body convulses violently foaming dark yellow bile from the mouth. The body contracts and shakes as his eyes roll back behind his eyelids. The second paramedic runs back into the bathroom producing a bigger flashlight after hearing a shout for assistance. His light catches the spots of blood in the sink. An old brown leather belt is hanging off the sink. Handfuls of foil medical packages have been left carelessly around the bathroom with numerous new and used needles exposed. The glass of the hollowed out light bulb is coated with a rust coloured film from repeated use as the charcoal black remnants of an unknown substance has solidified waiting patiently to be reheated and drawn up into a syringe.
He had done it. Painfully dragging his body virtually dead weight he clutches the top with both hands. The bird had sat waiting and stared into his eyes with a thousand yard stare that could cut through the very mountain itself. Its eyes were two stones of polished obsidian. Each feather looked as if it had been crafted to fit slick to the body like a tailored shield of armor. The white head is held high displaying its bright colour proudly like a painted warriors face. Both talons clung to the rock with ease with razor sharp accuracy. Suspended in a second of timelessness the mighty bird shoots its wings out blocking the sky and propels itself upward letting out a call that echoes deep into his bones beckoning him to follow.
One of the officers begins to check the room to piece together a picture of what happened. The room had little in it other than one small black leather bag left closed by the door. The drawers were empty, the coffee and tea facilities left unused. The TV remote looked as if it hadn’t move at all next to the small square set in the corner of the room. Opening the closed curtains with one swift pull the dust floats away as the light brings to life the room in detail. It starts to tell an unhappy story of suffering, confusion, regret. One paramedic leaves the bathroom holding his head and walks passed the officer as if he didn’t exist. Shortly the second paramedic walks out of the bathroom and sits sullenly on the trashed bed. The light now shone into the bathroom and revealed the mans face with no mercy. Showing each wrinkle and crack on the skin of his face, the streaked grey hairs and cut lip. The eye sockets have sunk back retreating into the skull with a purple glow. Each painful memory tattooed for a lifetime. “We Lost Him”.
The warmth of the sun spreads through the blacks clouds as the light begins to quickly calm the raging storm. As the clouds begin to wisp away the sounds of small birds start chirping from the bottom of the mountain. The entire forest absorbs the sunlight and takes a deep breath bringing back the life it protects so dearly. The crystal blue of the lake below with its inviting waters reflecting the now clearing skies. The valley of the mountain was peaceful yet again. Serene and tranquil it was as if the storm never happened. Deer dance between the tall pine trees harmoniously as droplets of rain fall and bounce of their soft fur. Outside the motel the paramedic looks up as a great birds shadow is cast over the motel. Its silhouette hardly visible as it disappears, effortlessly gliding through sky. Free. Happy.
I hope you enjoyed reading! This first short story gave me the chance to play around with a few interesting writing ideas of how to lay the story out and how the timeline works. It gave me a new perspective on time when writing and of course was great practice to develop my ideas for another short story. Please all feedback is extremely valuable to me so don’t hesitate to put forward suggestions or error corrections, this is like a pre final draft before I wrap it up so there’s still some time!