Pauline

Date: 26th February, 2019
Edited: 28th February, 2019

Written at the Writers Cafe meetup
Prompt: Pauline

Ants. Tiny six-legged creatures with brains the size of a grain of salt. And yet, somehow, they manage to build up empires with sprawling underground tunnel networks with multiple queens commanding billions of individuals.

SPLAT!

But they are no match for the soles of a size 7 Reeboks AIR.

Gravel coated with the gore of squished ants was sent flying in the wake of a pair of stumbling, giggling teenagers. They laughed as they clumsily made their way across the gravel clearing, high on the sweet stinging taste of forbidden vodka.

“No one would find us there,” one of the girls said to the other in a whisper.

“Then why are you whispering, stupid?”

Laughter erupted from the pair. The pretense of caution and stealth was thrown away to the wind like a rather noisy and crinkly fluorescent colored trash bag.

Tipsy steps found better footing as gravel gave way to the packed earth of the forest. Their shoes crunched as they walked over the carpet of dead leaves blanketing the forest floor. The trees seemed to grow in size the deeper they went, blocking the nighttime sky as their trunks lengthened and branches clawed upwards toward the moon in vain.

“You can’t even see the camp lights from here,”

“That’s the point,”

“It’s really dark in here,”

“That’s…also the point. Stupid.”

“Oh.” Then, brief pause. “Right!”

A girlish giggle warbled out in the darkness.

“So, where is it?”

The crunching of leaves from two pairs of feet… The background soundtrack of various forest noises…

No answer.

Another beat of background sounds.

Still no reply from the other girl.

“Hey… Where is it?”

“Hey… Where is it?”

A drunken laugh, a bark really. The brief burst of sound stacattoed out into the forest.

“No seriously. Where is it?”

A drunken LaUgh, a BArK really. The brief BuRST of sound stacattoed out into the forest.

“No seriously. Where is it?

“That’s not funny,”

“That’s NoT FUnNy,”

“Cut it out!”

There was a quick swishing sound- the movement of a person in loosely fitting pajamas. No impact. Just empty air.

Then, silence. Just the forest and her.

One beat.
.
.
.
Two beats.

And then, a quiet whimper. “P…Pauline?”

CUT it oUt!”

Another quick SWiSHinG noise- the movement of SOMETHING much, MUCH larger and heavier than a person step step STEPPING on the dry dEAd leaves lurching forward and- a HARD, WET, MEATY IMPACT. The sound of GUSHinG liquid. G u r GL i ng. A dull, heavy THUNK. The cRINkLinG of leaves.

Then, silence. Just the forest and her and…it.

Not quite.

Incoming- a new collection of sounds. The collective skittering of thousands, no billions, of tiny little legs, marching towards their new destination.

Pauline stepped out of the woods. She emerged from within the dense copse of trees, brushing off dead leaves and debris from her hair and clothes. Her Reeboks AIR hit the gore-covered gravel, the tiny sharp pebbles rattling underfoot with each step, overshadowing the sound of billions of tiny legs.

The ants were marching in a neat and orderly line, marching into the woods with a purpose. Pauline was going in the opposite direction. She easily ignored the ants.

But she could hear something else very, very clearly- above the ants’ skittering, above the rattle of the gravel underfoot, above the thunderous rhythm of her heart.

And there it is, a quiet WHimPer, “P…PAuLine?”

Pauline kept walking and did not look back.

1st March, 2019
Writer’s Notes:

It’s been a week since I’ve written prose so I’m a little rusty. This goes to show that I need the weekly habit to keep writing stories feeling natural. This week I wanted to dip my toes back into the horror genre and try a different spin on the whole “drunk dumb teens going into the woods at a campsite” trope. In this case, I tried to tell the story through descriptions of sound and with lots of ambiguity. I was inspired with the recent trend in horror movies like BIRD BOX and A QUIET PLACE where senses are handicapped and the antagonists are a really up to the viewers’ imagination. I find it refreshing and a lot more frightening. I can’t really say how well I executed this in written form but I will continue trying to refine this technique. And from others’ advice, will work on consistent POVs and better characterization of characters.

Tell me what you guys think?

Until next time,
The Writing Borb