Articles, Rants and Explorations
Current Jennilog for 4 / 28 / 2007: A short-short story
THE CHASE: YELLOW
The pale mass writhed; it wiggled with pleasure and satisfaction. It would perform well, and it knew it. A powerful sense of something not exactly joy pervaded its hard, slick bulk and though it had no throat, it would have sang if it could.
It was the color of sand, a light yellowish tan, and it was hard as stone, yet it moved with the fluidity of water. It streamed and poured down the midnight steps of the ancient university. It was a moonless river of butter reflecting only the stars.
It had a name, but it did not know it, it knew little at all, really, just a purpose and what pleasure it gained from accomplishment. Whatever had brought it, and wherever it belonged, was lost to it now; it knew only the thrill of pursuit.
The strange river flowed to a stop, and rose up as a shining dome to survey the land. What passed for eyes in the thing surely gazed first this way, and then that; there were no marks upon its smooth and shining surface, yet still there was a sense of direction to it, of a face somehow scanning.
The woman froze. She whimpered softly, from knowledge. She knew what the mass was, and she knew what it meant that it was there. Her safe campus was now a hunting ground, and she knew that she was prey.
Running now, as quietly as she could, a delicate stride, her goal the courtyard. If she could make it there, the ancient rules of the game would protect her; she would know sanctuary.
It was a simple mistake, she knew it the moment it happened; a tiny stone on the path shot out from her footstep, to impact on some shadowed surface, likely the curb. The small report of the pebble sounded across the still campus, instantly the pale mass jerked.
It was a rapids now, breaking and crashing heedlessly between the buildings. A burbling yellow river of weirdly hard fluid, it streamed with surprising grace and control. There was a strange glee to it that was not glee; it enjoyed the chase.
She was out of breath now, the steps were steep and going down them was hard; she dare not trip, her focus had to be perfect. Her feet flew across the groundcover, burgundy in starlight, it was shining crimson in the day.
She had left the path thinking that the narrow space between the library and the cafeteria would be too thin for that which tracked her, but she was wrong, the slim space filled with an amber ocean which was almost on top of her even as she realized her error.
She rolled to the side, flattening herself against the brickwork. The pale sea poured out endlessly onto the ruddy lawn, the strange stars streaking across its undulating curvature.
Breathing shallow gasps, she watched it pull itself up into a frozen wave, which then turned, slowly, from side to side. It was searching again.
She knew that eventually it would find her. Despite the starlit dark, despite her best effort to be still, incomprehensible senses would soon lock on, perhaps to the heat of her flesh, or the soft sound of her breath, or perhaps some quality of her very life itself, which only the thing could witness.
She must do something. She gazed at the great circle of the courtyard, it was in front of her, it was her goal, but between her and that safety sat the great hanging wave.
An impulse, not fully an idea, seized her, and with a fumbling hand she tossed the bag she had been carrying. It was heavy, it held her books, and more, it also contained the bottled beverage she had been saving. Her throw was high and long, and she winced when the sound of broken glass came from the walkway to her left.
Instantly she was at speed, and so was the great pale mass, which shot toward her sacrifice. She ran with all her might, heedless of the sound her feet made, putting everything into a final leap for the edge of the inlaid circle.
She stood. Her feet clearly within the little stone lip which circumscribed the great seal of the college. Her labored breathing could not be heard over the ululating screech of the pale mass, doubtless pronouncing some arcane curse in a forgotten language.
"DAMMMMNNNN girl!" the words somehow emanated from the strange living river as it sent forth a tributary to pick up her bag "I thought I had you that time!"
"Like crap you did. I can't believe you fell for that. You owe me a beer, too, you big puddle of piss." She had caught her breath, and was fighting hard to avoid laughing - it mattered to her that she appear fully in control.
"Hey, it wasn't my fault you broke your bottle. Your books are going to be soggy too, and that's your problem girl."
"Fine." She had left the circle now and tried to reclaim her bag "Uh uh uh..." teased the great mass, as it held her book bag above her head "You need to pay up first."
"Oh come on now! As if I'd kiss an illiterate waterbed like... like ever! And you don't even have lips so just..."
"You don't know what I have, though maybe someday I'll show you."
"Yeah, you talk big but..." the conversation swirled away with the curious pair, the strange girl reaching for her book bag, and the normal living ocean as it kept it from her, both laughing on their way back to the dorms, the fairly famous dorms of Miskatonic University.
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