On Climbing


Now for something a bit more fun than usual.  With all of this school-ing and working and the writing of many formal or semi-formal things, I have let slip my creative writing.  But no more! Here, for your reading pleasure, is a lovely microfiction.  And please forgive me if the rust shows, it really has been a while.

The truck rumbled down the frozen road just a little too fast.  She concentrated on her breathing and ran her fingers across the seatbelt that ran over her hipbones.  On her right, Marc blew cigarette smoke out the window, and Aaron drummed away on the steering wheel as they slipped their way past trees and mailboxes.

They skidded up in front of a hill surrounded by a high barbed wire fence and a thick growth of trees and bushes.

“How the hell do we get in?”

Her words met the cold air and turned into a tiny cloud.

Marc just grinned.

“Follow me.”

A lightly tread path showed the steps of previous trespassers, towards the secret entrance that she desperately hoped didn’t include climbing.  They reached the fence, and Marc indicated a hole in the links.

“I’ll go first.”  With a grin he ducked and wove through the fence.

Aaron shrugged.  “Go ahead.”

She examined the hole, thinking strategically of the best way to navigate it, then stuck her left boot through the hole and ducked through it.  The barbed wire sagged down towards her on the opposite side, grasping at her hair like tiny fingers.  Then she collapsed clumsily on the other side, where Marc gave her a hand up.

On top of the hill the orphanage stood, a menacing construction of grey concrete with boarded up windows covered in graffiti tags.  They passed by a swingset that creaked slowly in the wind, the swings swaying as if occupied by memories of the past.  They circled the building, looking for an opening.  They finally found one, a window just above the height of her head, where all the glass had been cleared out, barely big enough for a person to pass through head first.

With a boost from the guys, her head entered first, and she gripped the flashlight in her right hand, cursing her weak arms.  A piece of machinery, something like a furnace was under the window.  Pulling herself along across it, she managed to scramble through.  The other two followed.

The dark was overwhelming, the true dark that a city dweller rarely knows, the kind to which your eyes can barely adjust.  The light from the window barely managed to illuminate the shapes of various strange machineries across the room.

“Do you hear that?”  Aaron’s voice broke at the end.  A slow drip, drip, drip was coming from the hallway in front of the room.

“It’s just water,” she said.  Now that the climbing part was over, nothing else seemed so bad.

“No it’s footsteps,” Marc answered.

Aaron shifted.  “Maybe its a bum.”

She could hear it now, the steady pinging that she knew was just water but that seemed to be getting closer. Suddenly an enormous man, the conglomerate of every horror movie villain that had ever graced the screen was edging towards her in the darkness, hiding in the shadowy shapes of the room.

She concentrated on her breathing.


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