Introducing, Matthew O'Dwyer

Happy Summer and a very warm welcome to guest writer Matthew O'Dwyer who is a poet, novelist, and short story writer with a particular fondness for fantasy. We hope you enjoy the story and please leave some feedback in the comments.





 
The Survivor
~by Matthew O'Dwyer

“Do it,” Jolus said. The air in his lungs felt dry, rasped, like a lingering frost that crept into his stomach. “Be done with it.” His voice was a whimper, a prayer only the trees would hear. Moonlight washed over the bare branches of the once beautiful trees and dirt around him.

Jolus screamed. His eyes watered. Something they’d never done before. Not since he was a boy, at least. He peeled his fingers off the hilt of his dagger. Fear’s grip on him was too fierce.

Broken chainmail, shredded cloth, and a black, veiny scab infested his chest. The creatures, the scarred, the tainted, he didn’t care what they were called. They came in the night, rending families with their foul, blood-stained teeth. Anything they could. Anyone they could.

A flash, a burn ran through his left arm. He cursed the sorcerers, dead as they were. He cursed them for the world they’d birthed, a desolate husk of beauty. A skittering sound echoed in the distance. Something moved through the trees, through the dirt. The ash. The creature, he thought. Impossible. He killed it. He thought he killed it. Sweat ran down the back of his neck.

Jolus clenched his hand, crumbling autumn leaves between his fingers. He’d seen his daughter go through it. Lilla. A bite to her leg when she was just a little girl. They took it. Severed it. She lived. She stayed alive. She even became a wonderful healer. He wanted that. Jolus’s mind raced through everything he’d seen earlier in the night. He thought he saw her get away, into the night, into the woods somewhere. He wanted to believe it.

He looked at the wound, a festering abomination that would overtake him. He would be tainted by sorcery, like the creatures, like the land. He would join them in their eternal hunt.

“Be done with,” Jolus whispered. His hand fumbled through the sea of sunset leaves until he felt the hilt of his dagger. He looked at the blade. He’d sharpened only says earlier. A clean cut, he thought. A clean cut would be enough. He wanted to believe, like he wanted to believe in the leaves, and in his daughter getting away. He could be the brave man. The warrior. Not just the survivor.

“Do it,” Jolus said, louder now. “Be done with it. End it.”

Jolus lifted the blade, icy steel that bit at his throat. He’d done it so many times to others. He saw them all now. The people he’d killed to survive. Other survivors, other people. Families. The ones he’d killed for food. The ones he’d killed for pleasure.

Jolus felt his hand shake. The fever would burn him out now. He dropped the dagger and let his hand fall to the dirt. The ashes of a burned world. No daughters who lived. No leaves that fell. No warriors. Just him. He couldn’t help but think, in his fevered haze, that it probably wouldn’t be so different.


Wordcount: 499




Matt O’Dwyer is a fantasy writer, game designer, and student enrolled in Seton Hill University’s MFA program. Matt lives in Port Orange, Florida and received his BA in English and Creative Writing from Stetson University. You can contact Matt through his blog, Twitter account, or Facebook page.



6 comments:

  1. Nicely done, Matt. ;) Feels like a part of a larger story. I like. :D

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  2. ::shudder:: it always gets me when someone is taking a knife to themself for some reason. I definitely want to see how he ended up here!

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  3. Beautifully descriptive. Immediately pulls you into a whole other world.

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  4. Oh man, that second to last paragraph is great! It really feels like the focus narrows down to one moment and then explodes back outwards into real time. Thank you for posting!

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  5. Thank you for the kind words, everyone. And a big thank you to everyone at The Word Wood. Participating in this site has been a true honor. Flash fiction is very different from what I write on a daily basis, so writing this piece was a fantastic experience.

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  6. Thank you for the kind words, everyone. And a big thank you to everyone at The Word Wood. Participating in this site site has been a true honor. Flash fiction is very different from what I write on a daily basis, so writing this piece was a fantastic experience.

    ReplyDelete

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