All Are Cleft

manitoba Pine Dock crevice

Photo © Adrien via Google Street View



The crevice snakes on, craggy cliffs pushing close. How long have we been led along it? Days? Years? At a blind corner I turn to check on you. The rope connecting our waists puzzles me.

Right. There was another. A man. Someone close, although I cannot picture him. We rounded a bend and he wasn’t behind us anymore.

I gaze at the rough stones, imagining climbing to freedom. You grab my outstretched arm.

Now I remember. A young woman, scrambling up, finding easy handholds, until… My stomach roils at the image of countless black insects covering her. A buzzing fury, then bones falling to the path.

Something skitters inside the wall.

Finally an exit appears: beautifully grey, empty space. I turn to rejoice with you.

***

I hold a frayed rope, tied to my waist. Why? A sob erupts, unbidden.

I resume walking.

Another blind corner appears in the endless maze.



Word count: 150. Written for this week’s What Pegman Saw challenge. Big thanks to Karen and Josh for hosting this great prompt! This week Pegman takes us to Manitoba, Canada. The shot I chose is in Pine Dock, which is apparently chock-filled with fascinating crevices like this. Hopefully without the characteristics of the one in my story! Click on the link to read the other stories inspired by this great location, and to submit your own.

I’ve been away for a couple weeks on vacation — which was wonderful! I had an amazing time visiting with a dear friend in Frankfurt. We took a road trip into the Burgundy region of France to see the Guédelon castle being built using 13th century technology (I super geeked out on that!). While we were there we saw a wealth of charming Medieval villages, impressive abbeys and churches, and fascinating museums. So much resource material for Eneana! And oh my goodness, I ate like a king, yum!  Still, it’s good to be back home and be able to write and blog again. Looking forward to catching up on all your blogs again, too.

Below are two of my many shots of Guédelon. These are the two front towers flanking where the main gate will be. Note the two treadwheels (a.k.a., human hamster wheels) that they use to lift enormously heavy rocks up to the construction area, after quarrying them by hand and then shaping them in the on-site workshop.  The second shot is the arch of the main gate, seen from the other side. If you are interested in Medieval technology and castles, I strongly recommend making the trip sooner rather than later. Once they actually finish construction, it won’t be nearly so interesting.

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32 thoughts on “All Are Cleft

  1. Yikes! It’s a lovely picture, however you’ve created quite the maze of terror. The bones falling is brilliant and frightening. Great to see you back. Your trip sounds delightful! I love french food and castles.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Karen! I liked the bones falling too — great visual effect in my imagination, although I can never tell how others will see it in theirs. The scariest part to me was how the narrator had forgotten her other companions, and how quickly she forgets the one tied to her waist just seconds ago. Shiver!

      My trip was so amazing. I’ve seen a fair amount of France and Germany before, but always the big cities where work took me. So it was lovely to see the smaller town where my friend lived on the outskirts of Frankfurt, and to drive all those country roads around France. This might have been the only trip I’ve ever made to Europe where I did *not* see a castle — at least, a complete one — but I made up for it with countless quaint Medieval villages. And oh yes, the food was crazy good, both in France and Germany.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Josh. I was ready to settle on a photo of show-covered trees when I found this one. I’m sure Pegman will take us somewhere with trees and snow again some time; I couldn’t pass this one by.

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  2. Story: Love this. It has such a sense of endless walking and random death about it. The character focused on just the moment. Nothing to spare on anything else. Lost comrades get the slightest of attention, just enough to know they were once there, but no longer. No room for details in one’s mind, they come and go on the whim of chance. Must keep searching for a way out…

    Your Trip: Sounds fantastic! Travel can be so much fun, but I love the castle building using “ancient” tech. Ha, I would have geeked out on that too.

    Welcome back.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The story: Thanks Louis! And hmm, interesting take, since that’s not what I intended but now I can see what you mean. My idea was that the crevice/maze was somehow sucking out their memories, so she really doesn’t remember her former colleagues except in these brief glimpses of memory, which are confusing and shocking. But I can see your idea too — a different kind of crazed response to this insane situation.

      My trip: Yes it was fantastic! I love to travel and I haven’t had much chance to do so recently, so this was especially nice. Plus most of my travel in the past has been for work, and I’d carve out an extra two or three days for fun. So having a whole week just for vacation (not including travel days) was so wonderful! And yes, I would definitely recommend Guedelon — you’d love it!

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      • Joy, yes I took it that the strain of survival was not allowing the time to form long term memories. Maybe their time there was somehow “out of time” so it had been long and folks were being forgotten? You make an interesting point with: “My idea was that the crevice/maze was somehow sucking out their memories…”

        Hmm, I wonder if a line something along the lines of, “…skin gets scrapped as my elbow slides along the wall’s sharp face, but it also takes another memory from me… my lost friend, their hair color, what… was… it? How much longer till we forget we wish escape?”

        Sorry, not suggesting how to write your story of course. Trying to guess what would have worked for me before knowing what you told me here. Okay, I’m a bit slow, you might need to hit some of us over the head a bit more. But I have to say, I love this point you allude to. That brings up lots of possibilities to me. This maze of lost memories, what is it? How many others wander its passages not remembering themselves? Do they walk out of habit, with no purpose after a certain point? Is it a Venus fly trap for the curious?

        Great idea you have here!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ooh, interesting ideas! Now I’m kicking myself for not saving the much-longer first draft, which I think would have been a lot clearer (not surprisingly, cutting half the words inevitably cuts some explanation!). Originally I had the narrator thinking more and getting more worried about the fact that she had forgotten so much. She gets these little snippets which remind her that she was originally traveling with more people, and has this vague idea that they were close to her — close friends, maybe more — and how disturbing it is that she can’t remember anything else clearly, can’t even identify if that vaguely-remembered man might have been her brother, or her husband. Everything is a blur. How many other people might she have forgotten? How long has she been here? (That’s hinted in the current version, but only barely.) Why did she even come into this place?

        And as you say, how many other people are also walking this maze, each alone, each wandering by habit and instinct, no longer clear about who they are? I like the image of the Venus fly trap for humans, that’s perfect!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Also, in the longer version I think it was more clear that when she turned around to rejoice with her friend and her friend wasn’t there, she immediately forgot the friend, and was left holding what remained of the rope that bound them, wondering why she had it tied to her waist.

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  3. Glad your trip was refreshing and fed your ideas bank…
    And your fiction –
    The Opening had all that delightful alliteration – not too much (and alliteration can totally get overdone – just like too many descriptions or sensory details – even tho it also comes down to author’s choice and voice – right?) but I liked how it was and then the spooky part was unexpected and fit the “fascinating” crevices

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the great comment! And thanks for pointing out the alliteration — I’m usually very conscious about that but this was completely accidental (or perhaps I should say, instinctual?). It just sounded right.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Like he idea of instinctual – and have been reading various books this summer – leaving them opened or book marked in various parts of the house – and one of them is about artists and they paint or photograph and provide all this stuff for the art critics to dissect – like breaking down harmony and balance -while the artist says he never planned anything- just took the shot -or just painted and was letting he brush flow. Similarly – honed writers provide fodder for all when they just let the writing flow – sonit had their voice and the idea they were trying to convey (which is always open to viewer interpretation even when we are careful to add in helping words to help convey meaning ) so all that (whew) to say it makes sense that there are unplanned juicy bits 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • I love that phrase — “unplanned juicy bits”! And yes, instinct is just another way of saying that you’ve practiced something so much that you can do it without consciously thinking about how to do it right. Unfortunately that means you still need to work to get all that practice before you can be “naturally” good! Although I do think that for writing, if you do a ton of reading, that also contributes to having a better instinct for writing and what works and doesn’t. Probably the same holds true for musicians and artists, that they’re studying their craft even without consciously doing it.

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    • Thanks Penny, I can totally see that. It would make for a great apocalyptic story: if we all lost our memories of anyone we knew and loved, would we all end up acting like we have no empathy? How can you love someone or feel loved if you literally cannot remember other people, especially if you’re distracted by terror because your life is being constantly threatened? “Brrr” is right!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The memory or lack of it made this very mysterious. It reminds me of The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro in which a whole community seems to lack the ability to recall what happened yesterday. I cant remember how it ends (because I haven’t read that far yet!) how very futile and waiting-for-godot-ish this exercise of mazewalking seems, from this one brief glimpse. I would read on to learn why.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh, I hadn’t thought of The Buried Giant but yes, now that you mention it, it does have such a similar feel. And creepy in a similar way. And how nice that you’d want to read more, I always love to hear that. Thanks for the great comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A very frightening story… the stuff of nightmares for sure! I’ve watched several shows that featured different segments of the build at the castle. It’s really cool! I’d geek out, too. In fact, I’d probably stay and work knowing my love for learning old ‘dying’ arts. So glad you got to see it in person!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by, and glad you liked the story! And yes, seeing Guedelon in person was really impressive. I was really tempted by the idea of working at Guedelon for a couple weeks myself, that would be SO cool! I watched the BBC “Secrets of a Castle” with Ruth and Peter and Tom; that’s what got me hooked. I haven’t seen anything from an earlier stage in the building process, that would be interesting. I learned that there’s a similar project in Germany called Campus Galli, where they’re building a 9th Century cloister. That’s definitely added to my wish list!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Campus Galli sounds like something I need to look up, too. I doubt I’ll ever see Europe in this lifetime, but there is the joy of internet. 🙂 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • I have been lucky enough to travel to Europe many times, and hope to venture out to other parts of the world soon too. Even so, between time and money constraints, I could never see all the places I’d like to. But as you say, we are so lucky that we have the internet, and SO many wonderful documentaries, so we can visit vicariously!

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