23 April 2011

S is for Show Not Tell


My heart is pounding and the blood runs thick and furious in my ears. A sudden surge of nausea builds in my cramping stomach and I collapse on the floor and retch, a thin stream of salty bile the only thing of substance that trickles from my mouth. I know I can’t stop. Not here. Not now. He’s right behind me. So I get up and run.

The dark sun shimmers, deep and dangerous, probing the corners of the streets with its long desperate fingers while the city bends around me like a wolf encircling its exhausted prey.

I stop for a moment. Have I lost him? I tighten my senses and listen… the distant cries of taxis, the splash of water from an open window, the crash of glass and an angry voice… and then, beneath the skin of the dying city, I hear the slow grind of metered steps that haunts my dreams and consumes my waking hours.

I turn to run, but my foot twists on a piece of broken concrete and I collapse in a jumble of bones and searing muscle. My eyes stutter in saccadic panic as I scan for some way out: a storm water drain.

I tear at the road and drag my heavy body towards the opening and slide inside. It’s dark and dank and wet. And then I hear that unmistakable dragging gait. He stops beside the drain and I can see his brown scuffed boots and smell the stench of alcohol and rusty sweat. And I know he’s finally caught me.

But then he leaves. And darkness enfolds the city and I drift off. Tonight I dream of a big white building. Grand Central Asylum for the Criminally Insane. But I have no idea why my dreams take me there.

Today I started following Rachael Harrie’s Blog.  For her “S” posting, she offered up a challenge:

In 300 words or less, write a passage that shows (rather than tells) the following:

  • you're scared and hungry
  • it's dusk
  • you think someone is following you
  • and just for fun, see if you can involve all five senses AND include these random words: shimmer, saccadic, substance, and salt.
  • For extra points, see how many words beginning with “s” you can use.

The story above was my attempt at meeting this challenge.  It just made it inside the maximum word limit, achieving a final total of 299 words.  My S-word count ended up at 29 words.


  1. The blog is very good!

  2. I really liked the imagery you created. Raised my heart rate when he slide in the storm drain. YIKES. I have a major fear of grates. Look forward to reading more of your work.

    Mine is linked below.

    Inspired by Lisa

  3. :0) Super! My fave paragraph is the sounds your protagonist heard. I'm not good at adding that in my writing. Well done! (My son's name is Grant, so I had to stop by!) Christy

  4. That's a good lead in for a longer story! Thin stream of salty bile...ewww yuck. Which means good. I also like "the skin of the dying city". Well done. i look forward to reading some of your back posts when the A to Z Challenge is done (pressed for time right now). Keep writing!

  5. Ooh, I like the sun, shimmering deeply dangerous and probing corners with its long, desperate fingers. Niiiice! Beautiful writing, awesome imagery.

  6. Excellent. I like the way you created the mood of fear! Good job! :-)

  7. Oh, I like the metaphors, very visual! And what a twist in the end ... if there are going to be any effects in the real world?!!? 300 words are much too short, don't you think so, too? :-)

    And isn't it fantastic, how different everyone's dealing with the same specifications?!?!

    Karin @ Nofretiris Dream Of Writing

  8. Great imagery of the setting sun! Love the tension in this piece!

  9. I have an award for you at my blog if you wish to accept.

  10. Wow, I love the imagery in your piece - I could see it so clearly while I read. "while the city bends around me like a wolf encircling its exhausted prey." - I really like this :)



  11. Thank you all so much for your kind words of encouragement. It is much appreciated.

  12. Wow, thanks for the award Li! I've never received one before, and I will formally accept it in a post later in the week.

  13. That's a grade A intense blog post! Wow! You really had me reading fast and furious to see what happened. ; )

  14. Lots of description woven into this piece! :O)

  15. Ooh, very evocative, great entry!

  16. Wow!!

    This is one god damn an entry into the challenge!! Really super cool!!!

    Don't forget to check out my entry!!!

    with warm regards
    CatchyTips for Writers