Today Incantation Paradox blog tour stops at author Chelsea Falin today with a simple blurb and bio post. If you can please stop by and support the tour.
As I plow away at the short stories comprising A New Era, I have this particular short story I’m a bit unsure of. I’m not achieving heart wrenching emotions from it.
It would help if you could read and let me know if it elicited any type of feelings when you read it.
The short is called Sam
A loud rumble outside jerked Sam awake. He smoothed back his receding hairline with both hands, gazing around the dark bedroom. The screams from his quiet neighborhood street could make even the devil wince and shrink away. Throwing the covers aside, he scrambled out of bed, rushing to the window. Light flashed into the room like a blazing star. Wailing from the neighbors pounded in his head. When he moved the curtain to peek outside, his eyes widened. The floor shook so hard he lost his balance and hit his head against the dresser losing his senses.
A bout of cough shook Sam and pain rattled the side of his aching head pressed against a rock. The dust filled air tickled his nose. He sneezed, smashing his cheek against a hard object. Something heavy pushed hard on his back, making it difficult to breathe. He moaned and cleared his throat.
“Help. Ain’t anyone there?”
An eerie silence made him sigh with despair.
Sam lost track of how long he’d been flattened under debris. Weakness enveloped his body and he drifted in and out of sleep.
Can’t feel me toes, I can’t feel me legs. Dear Lord, am I gonna see the light of day again? I’ve been an evil man. I couldn’t have done it any different. Them kids ain’t even mine, but I raised ‘em as best I could. I brung food to the table, a roof to their heads, and with thousands fights they buckled down and took me advice and all went to college. Little Mikey became a damn good lawyer. Are the kids alive? Let me see ‘em one last time…
As he drew in a ragged breath and closed his eyes, his mind fogged.
In the distance, a dog barked, rocks rolled, and a voice called out, “Come here, Sparky.”
Sam’s heart raced. He called out, “Help, please help me.”
The barking grew louder.
“Hello down there.”
“Can ya help me outta here?”
“Sam, is that you?”
“Who are ya?”
“It’s me your neighbor Phil with Sparky. Sam, I can’t even see you. I’m going to go get some help. You’re going to be okay as soon as we dig you out. You understand me?”
“How long ya gonna be? Ya comin’ back aren’tcha?”
“Hey man, don’t worry. I’m coming back with help.”
All turned quiet again and Sam closed his eyes as the dark cold enveloped his senses.
Seconds, minutes, hours, Sam had no concept of passing time. He dozed.
Snapping wood and falling rocks woke him from his restless sleep. Ears perked, Sam listened to the nearby noise.
“Hey Sam, say something man, we need to know where to dig.”
Sam moaned, struggling to inhale, his voice came as a whisper.
“Ok Sam, that’s good. Sparky here knows where you are. Just relax and we’ll get you out soon.”
Sam relaxed when he heard the men work and the dog bark. It helped keep his mind focused on his freedom. Waiting and listening, he concentrated on other things. He could feel his arms and his fingers although he couldn’t move one of them since it was stuck under his body. He couldn’t feel or move his legs and couldn’t even wiggle his toes. A sigh escaped his lips at the realization that whatever pinned him to the ground might have left him paralyzed. A tear sneaked over the bridge of his nose, dripping away. At least he was alive.
Light streamed through a crack in the rubble to rest on his face. He squinted.
“Oh God!” Phil gasped. “Sam, how are you holding out?” A thick wooden beam protruded from his lower back
“I’m still waiting.”
“We’re going to need to build a small pulley to lift some of the bigger beams.” As he spoke, Phil lay on his stomach and reached out to Sam, touching his face and forehead. “You gonna be all right waiting?”
“I’ve waited this long, haven’t I?”
“Yes, you have. We’re going to go look for stuff to build the crane and we’ll be back. In the meantime I’m going to send Mary with some water and a straw. You need to drink water my friend.”
“Who the hell’s Mary?”
“She’s a nice looking nurse that stumbled upon us poor folk. Don’t you move now. We’re coming right back.”
Silence assaulted Sam. He closed his eyes and drifted away to happier memories.
Sam opened his eyes to gaze upon the lovely angel holding a straw close to his mouth.
“Sam.” Mary touched his face with her warm fingers. “Sam, you need to drink some water otherwise you could dehydrate.”
He took a few sips, but swallowing turned out to be a challenge in his position.
“Slow Sam, no one’s chasing you.” She moved the straw and let him breathe. “Here, Sam, drink a little more.” She pushed the straw in his mouth.
Sam pulled a few swallows and closed his eyes exhausted.
Mary stood and moved away. “Phil, I’m really not sure about things, but if we move that thing off his back he’ll bleed to death.”
Sam could still hear every word she whispered.
Her voice barely reached his ear. “Have we found any of his other sons?”
“I don’t know. I found his son Mike, dead.” Phil looked the other way before asking, “How long do you suppose he can live if we don’t move things off his back so the pressure stays as is?”
“With no food and so little water…” She wiped her forehead. “I really can’t tell you.”
“Let me go check with the other survivors to see if any of his other sons have been found alive.”
“Yeah, don’t worry, I’ll stay here with him.”
Sam saw her feet closing in. She sat on the rubble near his head so he could see her.
He closed his eyes and sighed. “It’s all right, Mary….” He drew in a ragged breath. “I know I’m in bad shape… but I was hopin’ to see them kids one last time, ya know?”
“Just take it easy… you know we have a priest and a minister. Would you like to talk to one of them?”
He opened his eyes. “Naw….” He stopped, wincing in pain. “It’s not like I’m a church goin’ man. I done what I done for them kids and that’s it…” He pulled in another ragged breath. “Maybe it be best they don’t see me like this.” He closed his eyes.
“Here, Sam, take another sip of water.”
Without protest he drank some more water. It made him cough. “Somehow it feels good not to die alone.”
“I’m glad I’m here. I won’t leave your side, Sam.” She smiled at him.
“You’re a breath of fresh air.” Sam closed his eyes again.
The world faded in and out. Sam knew his time neared. He raised his heart to the heavens. Dear God, I’m a bad and evil man. I’ve robbed. I took another man’s wife. I’ve cheated. There ain’t nothing I didn’t do against you… but I did raise them kids. I loved them like my own. I gave them everything I have… that’s all I have.
He sighed and fell into an exhausted slumber.
Karl sat on a bolder. Elbows on knees and face buried in his hands, he looked like a statue. The wind ruffled his blond curls, mocking the frizz. He never noticed. A chocolate lab sniffed his legs, his arms, and his hands. Karl never moved. The dog bounced away wagging his tail. Chaos had happened and his beautiful high school sweetheart abandoned him for the afterlife. If only he hadn’t had to go to the office that ugly and fatal Saturday. They could have died together, in each other’s arms. Had she been afraid? Did she call out for him? He failed to protect her. Now he sat, miserable, in a desolate world he didn’t want to live in.
A warm hand rested on his back. Startled, he looked up to gaze into Melisa’s startling gray eyes.
“Everything happens for a reason, and you’ll never discover what that is if you sit here.”
Melissa always brought discomfort—too wise for her age yet still a little girl. “What makes you so bright and happy when you’ve been left an orphan?”
“My mommy is now an angel with daddy and my little brother… I’m still here because I didn’t finish my mission.”
“And what mission can a ten-year old child have?”
“First I must grow up, then I will know what my mission is.”
He cocked his head. “Who is going to tell you what this mission is?”
“The angels will speak it in my heart… I think you call it conscience, I call it my guardian angel.” She smiled, watching him.
He nodded. Saying no more, he buried his face into his hands again.
Melissa grabbed and yanked them away. Baffled, he stared at the child.
“You need to get up and go find Mary, because she is with Sam, and he is dying.”
Karl jumped to his feet passing his fingers through his tousled hair. “What did you say?”
“Phil found Sam. He has something real heavy on his back and Mary doesn’t think he will last very long. You must hurry so you can put a smile on his face before he becomes an angel.”
Karl’s legs wouldn’t move. He stood hunched, staring at Melissa. The girl took his hand and swung it to and fro, waiting. When his feet moved, she guided him to where Phil told her Mary and Sam waited.
They walked up to the rubble. Mary looked behind and acknowledged them with a nod. Karl moved close to her as Melissa skipped away. He looked down to where Mary stared and saw a beam protruding from his lower back and a slab crushing his legs.
“How can he still be alive?” he whispered.
“I think he’s been waiting to see you before he sighs his last breath.”
“That’s like a miracle.” He shook his head.
“If you follow that path right there.” She pointed. “It will bring you right up to him. If you lie down flat, you’ll be eye to eye with him. Give him the joy to see your face one last time.” She gave him a gentle push. His foot slipped and few pebbles rolled down. Moving slowly, Karl went down to see Sam. As Mary suggested, he lay on the rubble so Sam could see his face.
“Sam,” he said in a soothing voice, ready to crack, his eyes moistening. “Can you hear me, Sam?”
Sam’s eyes fluttered open. He grinned after a few seconds, recognition easing his features. “Thank God you be alive!” he cried.
Karl reached over and touched his face, then caressed his cheek with his finger, the same gesture Sam used when tucking him in bed as a child.
“Have ya found…your brothers and sisters?” Sam’s voice cracked.
“I’m sorry, but I’m the only one alive.”
“Well, did ya find the bodies?”
“We found both Mike and Bella.”
Sam sighed. “They be your angels now. Soon I’ll be joinin’ them.”
“Sam, we’re going to get you out of here.”
“I know it’s bad.”
Karl nodded and lay there soaking in the face of the man who raised him and his siblings like his own. “I’m going to miss your yelling, but I know you’ll always be with me, right in here.” He raised himself a bit and slammed his fist on his heart a few times, blinking the tears away.
Sam smiled. “I love ya as me own, son.”
“I know Sam.” He caressed his face again, the way Sam did when he lay sick in bed.
“How many folk have ya found?”
“We’re about thirty people right now, but we’re slowly losing hope of finding anyone else alive. Too much time is going by.”
“Keep praying, son.”
“I always will. It’s what you taught me.”
Sam smiled again and closed his eyes never to open them again.
Karl lay there, tears making their way over the bridge of his nose and onto the cold and impersonal rubble. He couldn’t move, couldn’t take his blurred vision from Sam’s loving face.
Any comments you have would be greatly appreciated.