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9th December
posted by amber

Planned Descent

The canyon was dark and not at all appealing.

Things up here, on the brim of the darkened abyss; the iron stained rocks basking in the sun’s warming, caressing hands, were much more inviting.

Terrence Randolph Carruthers squatted, looking across the narrow canyon’s gap, trying to find if a safer place existed to set up his rappelling rope. So far, the best anchor point presented itself just to the left of where he was. The sound of footsteps echoed against a number of crags and flat faced rocks. Terrence lifted his head and looked around, trying to determine where the sound came from. An older man walked towards him from the west, donning a daypack and using a crooked wooden walking stick. Terrence stood up, and waved at the lone hiker. The hiker raised his walking stick in a greeting; his pace was quick and proclaimed his level of conditioning.

“Whatcha doing here?” the man asked as he walked up to Terrence.

Terrence smiled, and pointed towards the dark, sun barren chasm that etched the red rock’s face.

“Planning a descent,” he casually stated.

The old man, his features strong, his face tanned, with eyes as black as the canyon itself, stopped and leaned on his crooked well-worn walking staff. He stared at the canyon, nodded slowly, and then shifted his look towards Terrence.

“On your own?” he asked Terrence.

Terrence looked the man up and down, gave a quick nod, and presented his hand in a welcoming gesture.

“I’m Terrence,” he spoke politely, “But those that know me call me Terry.”

The old man returned the handshake, his hand strangely cool in the quickly escalating heat.

“Eathan D. Scome,” he answered, his darkened eyes, pupil less in the sun’s intense brightness, “Good to meet you, Terrence. Those that know me call me Eath.”

Terrence felt suddenly cold, a feeling of dread encompassed him; a strange sensation of impending doom.

“I’ll see you later,” Eath stated calmly, “I need to see someone up on the higher ridges.”

As he walked away, Eath turned back and called over his shoulder. “I’ve been down in that chasm many times. In fact my name is written on the canyon’s edge,” he called, “I’ll be back to check on you! See you soon!”

Terrence felt the coldness slowly ebb away, and felt increasingly sure of himself. Tying his rope off, he threw it down into the darkness, adjusted his harness and clipped in. He shook the memory of the coldness he had felt off and forced himself to concentrate on the present task. He tried to shake the memory of the meeting he had just had; he needed to focus on his task at hand, he needed absolute concentration.

As he descended, he noticed Eath’s name etched into the canyon’s smooth rim.

Eath D. Scome.
The letters suddenly shifted.
D.eath comeS.

The anchor on Terrence’s rope suddenly failed, and Terrence desperately grabbed at the canyon’s smooth rim. He looked up to find a better hold.

There stood Eath.

“I told you I would see you soon…”


Here’s the first story sent in with today’s line – I challenge other workshop writers to try to beat Darryl next Sunday. Comments on Darryl’s tale? – Amber


  1. 12/12/2012

    Darryl – This is a fun little tale in the style of Poe.
    Here are a few comments. In a short short story, every word counts. If you’re going to use a few sentences describing Terrence’s anchor point, there should be a point. He’s looking for a better anchor point, so I guess he doesn’t trust the one he has (turns out he shouldn’t). Possibly you could get into his personality a bit more, perhaps he’s too arrogant, or under stress. Show us a reason he descends on a poor anchor. Show us why he’s out there alone. This can be done briefly, but it would help us bond with Terrence a bit more.
    Other words can be eliminated, such as adverbs (‘casually stated’, could be just ‘stated’, or ‘drawled’) or the multiple references to Eath’s wooden walking stick or the way Terrence’s mood bops back and forth near the end of the story.
    Last comment – I think he would do more than look for a better hold at the end, he’d be scrabbling for one.
    – Amber

  2. 16/12/2012

    I like this. Cute idea. Noticed a couple small things. I wouldn’t break up the phrasal verb; it seems awkward. Easy enough to say “He shook off the memory…”
    Also he shook off the coldness in order to concentrate, twice. Repetitive.

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