This is almost cheating, since the WIP I’m posting a snippet of is very nearly no longer a WIP. I’ve finished at least a draft of “The Horse Latitudes”, the short story that I posted a bit of last week. It’s since gotten not so short, and will probably need a good bit of carving and reshaping before it’s ready to send out. Nevertheless, for a story that I waited a year to write I think it’s not all that shabby.
Here’s a little bit of the last third:
– – –
Once upon a time there were two worlds. There was the world of the quiet bedroom, love and sleep. And there was the world of the smoke and the flies on dead eyes, the foreman fucking a prostitute in a dirty bunkhouse.
Once upon a time there were two worlds. There was the world of the open sea, fair winds, waves and joyful movement. And there was the world of stillness, thirst, the endless screams of drowning horses.
So the two worlds were married.
The marriage was not a happy one.
* * *
Sebastian’s hands settle on a figure hunched in the smoke and dust and rubble. He nearly falls again, catches himself against the figure’s back. He knows the angle of these shoulder blades, the flesh over them, the texture of the hair. He would know it in the light or the choking dark and he knows it in this awful place in-between. But it’s a still little knot at the center of heaving chaos, and he feels a lurch of horror to match the lurching of the ground under him. The shoulders heave under his hands and Ignacio turns, reaching for him, crying out something that extends itself past words.
And everything could end. But in the chasm of that moment he counts himself among the satisfied, among the already dead.
* * *
Listen: Silence on the water.
The sound of a hundred held breaths. The sound of breaths that will never be taken again. It is so much worse than the screaming.
* * *
Look: Buenaventura is burning.
Buenaventura. Good fortune. A city named in a flush of hysterical hope. The naming of things is a very important matter. Adam named the animals before he slaughtered them.