Friday, March 11, 2011

The Face of Death

Red Writing Hood is a weekly meme hosted at The Red Dress Club. I haven’t done this for a while, because I had been so busy. This week's assignment was to write a short piece, either fiction or non-fiction, about something ugly - and find the beauty in it. I don’t know if I quite nailed the prompt but I found it really inspiring and this came out of it.


The cold was cutting through the bones. The trees were creaking, their black, rotting trunks towering up menacingly. The barren branches offered no shelter from the breathing frost whirling sinister mists above the ground. Under a thin layer of snow twisted roots were crawling as snakes.

Infrequent sunrays which pierced through the mists were now and then reflecting from the icy rubies in the creek. The stream was quiet, the water was frozen together with the spots of blood in crimson gleam. A pair of legs was sticking out of the ice, the water half frozen back above where the rest fell in.

Men and horses were scattered on the bank. During the night mud and blood consolidated into a reddish brown rock. A black horse was lying on it side, eyes wide open, guts gushing from its corpse. Another one not far away had a skull split down the middle, legs coiled in their deadly spasm.

The limbs of men on the ground were all unnaturally bent, some almost severed by the sharp blades of the enemies. Two bodies were hung on a nearby tree, their mouths ajar in the eternal last gasp for air. The stained uniforms were stripped of insignias, the faces covered with wounds and dirt, some unrecognizably crushed with heavy boots.

A lock of wheat-coloured hair glistened golden at the touch of light. A young soldier was lying on his back, his broken right hand strangely curved, his uniform bloody on his chest, a long wide cut on his neck, the ground all rusty red underneath him.  

His handsome face seemed untainted. The pale skin was flawless, as smooth as ever. His hair was set aside from his face as if someone had just combed them. His eyes were all but closed, sparkling blue behind the eyelashes, as though he had been only pretending to sleep. Fine wrinkles formed round his lips, curved to smile any minute.

But Christopher was gone. A searing pain surged through her body. She abruptly opened her eyes. It took her a while to realise she was in her bed. It was only a dream. She rubbed the tears from her eyes and tried to calm the thudding of her heart. A terrifying thought sent chills down her spine. What if it wasn’t just a dream?


  1. Wow, what a take on this! Very vivid scene!

  2. Wow! A very interesting take on the prompt! I always love seeing all the different directions they can take. I have a thing about dead people. I cannot stand open casket visitations. I don't like to see people I care about dead. That image sticks with me, and it's not how I prefer to remember them. So the way she saw him was really interesting to me.

    I thought there was a bit too much scene setting in the beginning, perhaps. Also, you have a typo in the 2nd sentence of the 2nd paragraph. The stream was quite - I'm sure you meant quiet. And to me, that sentence would make the perfect start to your story.

    Great job!

  3. I agree, this is a very interesting, and fun, take on the prompt!

  4. I really enjoyed this. The visuals of the battle are definitely ugly but that bit of beauty, as if he is only sleeping, is a good contrast

    Visiting from RDC

  5. @ The Mom Pledge:

    Thanks for reminding me, I've corrected the typo. There is always one that slips my double and triple checking:)
    I agree, maybe I overdid the setting a bit, thanks for pointing it out. It is sometimes difficult to get just the right amount of scene description.

  6. This is very visual and an interesting take on the prompt. I think it's cool to see what sort of spark the prompt brings out in different writers! Great images.

  7. Wow!! Amazing descriptions!!
    I was right there.
    And then the twist at the end was so unexpected!!

  8. Wow! This was amazing to read. The imagery is very vivid and dark and I could see everything so, so well. You described everything truly well. I liked the macabre, hopeless setting, and strangely enough, there is a beauty in it. The language flows smoothly and is definitely beautiful, but there is something sinisterly appealing about the tableau you painted with words. I guess it's because it just pulls you in.

    Great twist at the end of the drabble. Just...a great job on this!

  9. Fantastic imagery and truly creative take on the prompt. Love it when that happens! Well done!

  10. This leaves me wanting more!!
    Great job with this prompt!

  11. Nice! I was with you every step of the way.

    'His eyes were all but closed, sparkling blue behind the eyelashes, as though he had been only pretending to sleep. Fine wrinkles formed round his lips, curved to smile any minute. '


  12. This sounds like it could easily be the beginning to an amazing short story - I would love to see it go somewhere.

    You have very powerful descriptions, without being too wordy or repetitive. Well done. :)

    TRDC #75

  13. Oh wow! This was chilling. Your words and images were so vivid and to have it be a sent chills down my spine.

    Visiting from TRDC.

  14. Thanks everyone.

    @ TempestBeauty:

    Thanks for the idea, I have thought of incorporating it into a novel,but short story might be easier to put together. I also have a kind of an ending and some other ideas in my head so I'll see where the imagination takes it.

  15. It was nice reading it. The imagery was brilliant.


Don't hesitate to drop me a few strange new words! I'd love to hear what you think!