I didn’t last nearly as long as I’d hoped with the Writing Excuses prompts. Let’s see if I can’t catch up…
Writing Excuses 10.5 writing prompt: Take three different characters and walk them through a scene. Convey their emotional states, their jobs, and their hobbies without directly stating any of those. The scene in question: walking through a marketplace, and they need to do a dead-drop.
There are certain advantages that come with being dead. When walking down the street, people tend to give you a wide berth.
People don’t want to be reminded of their own mortality.
People don’t want to be reminded that death is no longer the end.
My target was on the other end of the marketplace, on the front steps of the temple to Acbris, God of the Sun. Ironic, all things considered.
I was to take my package–a small thing, wrapped in brown paper–and leave it around the massive brazier that was never allowed to go out. To the casual observer, it would seem an offering like any other. Something to be tossed in by the temple priests whenever the fires began to dim even slightly.
At first, I had worried about that. If the package wasn’t picked up in time, would it not be thrown into the flames? What good would that do anyone?
But it didn’t matter. I was being paid handsomely for no more than a half hour’s walk across the market place. The price was more than enough to account for the stares.
Lost in my thoughts, I had no time to respond when the cart came barreling out of an alleyway directly into my path. It was huge, pulled by a team of four mechanical horses, two by two, each snorting and steaming as they reared up in a vain attempt to slow themselves.
The horses smashed into me, the first two knocking me to the ground, and the next two crushing my steel chest. If I had still been alive, that would have killed me. But instead, it didn’t even hurt. I could no longer feel pain. Finally, the cart hit me. I felt the impact, although if that was a true response or a memory of what I had once been, I couldn’t say.
I saw my chest bending, a long dent running from side to side. I heard a scream of steel as it bent, further and further. Something had to give, and give it did. Unfortunately, the part that gave was my head.
There was a hiss of steam as my head popped off and went rolling across the street. A spray of tiny golden gears spilled out from my neck.
For several long moments, I just lay there.
It had been such a simple job. Just walk across the market and drop off the package. Now I couldn’t even tell for sure where the package was, let alone finish the job.
I felt the crystal core, deep in my chest, just as it always was. A miracle of science and magic both, the crystalline structure was exactly how I was able to bind my spirit–all that was left of who I had once been–to the golem’s body. I couldn’t begin to explain how it worked.
While I lay there, trying to figure out what to do next, a small child walked up to me. In a single quick motion, he bent down and stole my head.
I couldn’t believe it. When I first saw the little street rat, I felt bad for him. The city had a problem with orphans, everyone knew that. What circumstances had led him to a life on the street?
When he’d stopped, I sorely wished I still had the ability to speak. But that was one of the conditions of my resurrection. It wasn’t that they coudn’t give golems a voice–but rather that the guild didn’t trust us not to tell anyone exactly what we were. Even with the Geas, they didn’t trust us not to go back to our former families and spill their one great secret.
Then he reached down for my head and I thought I wouldn’t have to. That he would do the right thing.
Just put it back in place, I mentally ordered.
But the little jerk just took it and ran.
I lay there, dumbfounded, for what felt like ages.
I couldn’t really blame him. Not really. He was probably starving. Living on the street. I’m sure he didn’t have any family or probably even a home to go back to. It was one of the problems that had gotten significantly worse since The Baron had come to power. That and the armies of new golems being pressed into service. I was one of them.
A detail flashed into my mind. In the confusion of losing my head, I missed it at first.
The boy had been carrying a package.
One that looked an awful lot like my own.
I turned within my golem shell, trying to find my own package. It took a moment, but I found it, only a hair away from my outstretched hand.
Well, that was something at least.
With a mental sigh–I no longer possessed either the lungs or the mouth for anything more–I heaved myself to my feet, package in hand. It was an unusual feeling. My body felt off balance and one arm and leg were not quite working correctly. But I could get to my feet and that was enough. If I even hoped to be able to afford a new head, I needed to deliver that package.
My left leg was no longer bending at the knee and the right was rattling. When all was said and done, I was going to need more than just a new head.
The others in the square gave me an even wider burden. I was no longer merely a shade, but now a headless golem as well. Even if one understood in their mind that a golem did not need a head to function, it was still an unsettling sight.
I settled into the new rhythm. Right leg rattles, left leg drags. Right leg rattles…
Before I knew it, I was there.
The fires at the temple to Acbris. And lying just beside the fire, two identical packages to the one I held in one hand.
I watched them for a moment. Not only the boy, but a third courier as well? Someone really wanted this package delivered.
But that was not my concern.
I had done my job. Now I could return to my berth and salvage what I could of my arms and legs. With any luck, this one delivery wouldn’t send me even further into debt.