Monday, December 13, 2010

A Twist Of Noir 640 - Naomi Johnson

PURSUIT - NAOMI JOHNSON

The night enveloped me as I ran. Ran hard. Harder still after I glanced back and caught the beam of headlights flashing in the distance behind me. Ran as though in a dream, one of the scary ones where you try desperately to scream, because if you scream maybe help will come, but in the dream you cannot scream, cannot cry out. My throat is blocked, it’s all I can do just to breathe. Must run. Must not stop. I’m so tired. I can’t think. Feet torn and bruised. But fear won’t let me stop running.

I saw the dim outline of a distant house as a light burned then winked out, gone like the flutter of bat wings, and I was abandoned to the night. The darkness was safety from the headlights behind me. But the darkness had eyes of its own, too, that I could not see, but could feel like hot demon breath on my neck. Somewhere on the wind I heard over my own panting an owl call out, questioning my identity. Bad omen. Owls are bad omens.

I staggered on against the night while thick, scudding clouds eclipsed the lightsof heaven. The road was cold, infinite space. The road was a bottomless cave with its monstrous maw agape, salivating, ready to swallow me. The sound of an engine closing behind me spurred my fear. With no warning, a shard of light sliced across the blackness before me, a surgeon’s scalpel cutting into the flesh of night. Probably a car, and that meant the highway was up ahead. If I made it to the highway, I might get away.

Just as quickly the light was gone and the darkness knit itself back together. Behind me, the engine purred like a cat on the prowl, growing louder as it neared its prey. Still I ran, fell over unseen snares, rose again, ran. Sobbed for breath, dared to look back once more. The headlights were closing in. I fell again, scrambled once more to my feet. My knees rebelled and at last I cried out, sobbing. Knew that if I stopped they would catch me. If I stopped I would feel the bruises and flowing blood from the cuts gathered on my wild flight. If I stopped my life was over. If I stopped –

I stopped, pressed backward by the shock of lights before me, blinding me. I shielded my eyes and felt myself falling, felt the road press its cold grit into my skin. And then the lights were all around me, flashing red and white victory. I wanted to be strong, to have courage, but I felt tears course my cheeks, salting the scratches there. The vehicle behind me stopped and ejected my tormentors. They were yelling, “Get down get down hands on your head get down hands on your head.”

I did and felt steel bite into my wrists. Hands grabbed me and stood me up and I staggered back against my enemies, pushed myself into them, made them wrestle me down again. I grabbed at their clothing, searching, searching, as the air filled with hot curses.

“Son of a bitching maniac killed sixteen that we know of. We ought to shoot him now.”

“Keep your head, Davis,” said a stern baritone. “He’s too famous. We’d never get away with it.”

“Should fucking shoot the monster right now.” There was muttered agreement from more than one voice.

They should have done that, but they didn’t. They hurt me some and made sure I bumped my head getting into the back of a cruiser, but they didn’t shoot me. In my right hand was a key to the cuffs and I used it. Leaned forward, raising my hands slowly, and spoke softly to the two men in the front seat.

“You two will make eighteen.”

BIO: Naomi Johnson is still in shock over being able to write to such a limited word count, and thanks Christopher Grant for the opportunity. Her longer stories have appeared here at A Twist of Noir, as well as at CrimeFactory and Southern Cross Review. She recently made her first sale of a story to Encounters magazine.

17 comments:

Michael Solender said...

Such a black tone of panic in this one. That last line is simply killer - as is this entire piece. Great stuff Naomi.

Ron Earl Phillips said...

You may be amazed you can write such limited word count, but you do it beautifully. Love the language.

AJ Hayes said...

The tense changes in paragraph one are rendered masterfully. It's hard to handle back and forth jumps like that, but you make it seem easy. Captures the feeling,the essence, of night and makes the reader feel it in his bones. Michael's right, last line is a whack up side the head. That's good flash. Cool.

Kathleen A. Ryan said...

Clever story, Naomi ~ you've penned quite a tale, filled with rich description, and gave us a cool twist, and managed it beautifully in 640 words.
They should have shot him when they had the chance!
Well done ~ congratulations :-)

David Cranmer said...

"Just as quickly the light was gone and the darkness knit itself back together." Nice.

nigel p bird said...

here the darkness has a weight and a form. like a thick, black velvet curtain that envelopes everything. i love it that the darkness inside the killer is equally tangible.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Great twist. And I like how little violence you had to put in to make us feel threatened throughout. That's artful writing.

Steve Weddle said...

Very cool.

R.S. Bohn said...

Heavy atmosphere, almost tangible, along with the pounding fear. (I hate that dream, too)

You did absolutely fantastic with 640 exceptionally well-chosen words.

M. C. Funk said...

Lovely scene, made with some real pretty meat on it.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Brilliant.Strong images a whipcrack punchline.beautifully done.

Mike Wilkerson said...

Great story. Great pacing.

Chris Rhatigan said...

Action packed! And with a nifty twist at the end.

Al Tucher said...

Here's my profound utterance of the day: You can do a lot in 600 words if you don't try to do too much. You've learned that in a big way, Naomi.

Joyce said...

This is incredible, Naomi. You run along with him. You can feel the fear and hope for safe harbor. Then, you realize who it is you're running with. You relax, knowing the danger is over. Anyway, you think it is. And then... Wow. The ending most certainly is 'simply killer' as has been said. Couldn't have said it better myself. Brava!

chad rohrbacher said...

Story started out in a run and never let up -- fantastic pacing and classic end

Anonymous said...

Now that's just wicked.
And to think I sympathized with a serial killer!
Cool.
Kelly