#SampleSunday – Testing

This is the exercise we were given at last month’s Corydon Quills and Quibbles writers meeting. We had three words to use in 500 words or fewer.

by Marian Allen

There were five of us: another American, two other men from Pakistan and the woman from El Salvador. They’d all been here since they were children, though, and spoke the language like natives.

One of the Pakistani men lolled against a pile of grain sacks, listless with the fever of his wound. I didn’t think he’d last the night. In fact, I knew he wouldn’t. We would have to move out at first light; we couldn’t wait for him to die or recover, we couldn’t drag him with us, and we couldn’t leave him behind.

If the other Pakisatni man’s glowering meant “I will protect him to the death,” I was afraid neither of them would see the dawn. We’d see where he bedded down. If he chose the stall at the far corner, well and good. If he settled in next to the wounded guy, we had a problem. Another problem.

Rain pounded onto the barn’s tin roof. Lucky for us, there was one leak, right where we could catch it in our canteens or stand under it to cool off. It had been a hot, dry week.

I pulled some of the grain out of a sack and sniffed it. No chemical smell, no funny color. This time of year, it was local harvest, not treated seed for planting. I ground the grain between two rocks and mixed enough water to make a paste. Tasted like putty, but it filled my belly. The other took their turns at the rock, too weary to fight for precedence.

It seemed cruel, but I couldn’t resist giving the wounded man some water and trying to get some grain paste down him. Habit dies hard.

The wounded man’s compatriot cocked his head at me, puzzled. Without meaning to, I met his eyes and our gazes locked. Two seconds passed. Four. Ten.

He turned away. With slow steps, he crossed to the far corner of the barn and settled into the shadows.

Don’t ask me what that was about; it’s just what happened in my head.

I invite you to follow the Summer Reading Trail with me. I have two stories for it posted on my Free Reads page. Follow the link back to the Trailhead to find more free stories from other writers.

Three of my four collections of short stories are free this month (July 2012) at Smashwords. My novel, FORCE OF HABIT, is 99 cents, but the short stories are free with the coupon code SSWIN. Go to my profile page and scroll down. The newest collection, TURTLE FEATHERS is still only at Amazon because I haven’t formatted it for Smashwords yet. I would say, “My bad,” but it’s more like, “My lazy.”

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: At least two characters are on the run.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “#SampleSunday – Testing

    • Author

      Marian Allen

      July 15, 2012 at 6:05pm

      Thanks, Jane — you always start my week off right with a healthy dose of egoboo. 😀

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  1. zebedeerox

    July 15, 2012 at 4:27pm

    Marian, hi.
    Jerald Larson (Aaron Alluring as was before Google made me change it) – long time, no speak! How are you, girl?
    I won’t ask you what it was about (show the reader, don’t tell them) but what were the three words? I’m intrigued.
    Another accomplished piece, we expect no less by now.
    I’m off to Lloret on Friday, but give me a nudge first week August and I’ll happily come on the Summer Read Trail with you.
    Take care, Hun. Zeb. xxx

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      July 15, 2012 at 6:04pm

      Hi! Long time, indeed! I’m chugging along as always, writing, feeding the animals, cooking, cleaning when we start to choke on the dust…. lol

      The words were: glowering, listless, compatriot

      I have no idea what was going on or where “here” was. I just freewrote with the three words in mind and that’s what came out.

      See ya!

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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