Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Story Extract: Too Ugly to Live

Gentle Reader,

The following text is an excerpt from a short story, the rough draft of which I recently completed.

* * *

The drive to the end of the road was about thirty minutes, and it passed through varied terrain.  There was an industrial area with mills and factories and vast yards of semi trucks.  Then cornfields, then soy, then other beans in flooded patches.  He saw cattle and horses in their pens.  The sprawling farmland looked to him like a fairy tale kingdom, green fields crisscrossed with meandering streams and patches of woodland.  The massive grain elevators on the horizon were like castles that governed and protected their patches of countryside.  This was the magic place, he thought.  Beautiful and maybe a little bit wild.  The type of place where wonderful things can happen, if one is lucky enough to happen upon them.  If he found a good spot, he would pull over and take pictures and look through binoculars.  If he was very lucky, he might think he saw something fantastic, like a coyote crossing a field.  Or, he might find something unexpected, like an Indian head penny.  All of it magic.  Like it was Oz country.

It was a particularly lovely day, dry for summer, sunny and warm but not uncomfortable.  The road circled a hill that sloped gently into a valley of ponds and cultivated fields.  He wished there was a place to stop and take a picture, and then suddenly, he saw just the place.  There was a little gravel inlet off to his right that passed through a clearing in the trees.  It opened out onto a flat and open part of the hill.  Smiling, he braked and turned in.  The view was glorious.  It really did look like a storybook.  The southern horizon was clear, untouched by buildings or trees, unlike the hilly and forested ground to either side of him.  At his feet were wheel ruts that led down toward the fields.  He thought of the generations of carts and wagons that must have passed that way.

One thing that caught his eye was the path that the road took through the valley.  It had curved quite a bit on its way through the hills, but once in the lowlands, it straightened out again, approaching its original shape and direction.  But then, about halfway across the valley, it veered to the right at a ninety degree angle.  It looked like it had probably been a proper T intersection once, but now, the far section of the road, the portion beyond the curve, was missing.  Yes--when he looked closer, he could see how the copse of trees across the road was split down the middle, marking the path that the road used to take.

Now that's a funny thing, he thought.  There used to be a road there, but not anymore.  What happened to it? 

* * *

Ever Yours,

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